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War crimes complaint filed against Chad leader Deby

War crimes complaint filed against Chad leader Deby©ONU/FlickrIdriss Deby
1 min 42Approximate reading time

The Senegalese court trying ex-Chadian dictator Hissene Habre for atrocities has received a complaint of rights abuses against his successor, it said on Thursday.

Idriss Deby, who overthrew Habre in 1990, has been accused of "genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture, at the initiative of some victims", lawyer Mbaye Jacques Ndiaye told radio station RFI.

The tribunal confirmed a case against Deby had been filed on Wednesday but refused to give further details and Ndiaye was unavailable for comment.

The complaint relates to the period directly before Deby rose to power in December 1990, according to RFI.

The plaintiffs, who are Chadians, accuse Deby of having tortured and executed prisoners of war, when he was a rebel commander, according to Ndiaye.

"President Deby personally committed wrongdoing -- acts of torture. He personally killed individuals. These are people who were tortured, who were executed, burned alive and thrown to wild animals," the lawyer said.

He was unable to give the number of victims, but said two were in Senegal while others were abroad.

Habre -- backed during his presidency by France and the United States as a bulwark against Libya's Moamer Kadhafi -- is on trial over actions under his regime from 1982 until he was ousted in 1990.

 



- 'Africa judging Africa' -



 

The 72-year-old is due to resume the landmark hearings for war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture during his blood-soaked reign on Monday next week.

Rights groups say 40,000 Chadians were killed under a regime of brutal repression of opponents and rival ethnic groups Habre perceived as a threat to his grip on the Sahel nation.

He refuses to recognise the legitimacy of the Dakar prosecution, the first time a despot from one African country has been called to account in another.

The court, known as the Extraordinary African Chambers, has appointed three attorneys to defend him after he refused legal representation.

It adjourned in July to give the lawyers time to prepare the defence.

After he was overthrown Habre fled to Senegal, where he was arrested in June 2013 and has since been in custody.

Delayed for years, the trial sets an historic precedent as until now African leaders accused of atrocities have all been tried in international courts.

Many Africans distrust the International Criminal Court in the Hague, accusing it of chiefly targeting Africans for prosecution.

"This is Africa judging Africa," Senegal's Justice Minister Sikidi Kaba said of Habre's case.

The Extraordinary African Chambers -- set up under an agreement between Dakar and the African Union - indicted Habre in July 2013 and investigators spent 19 months interviewing some 2,500 witnesses.

Around 100 witnesses are expected to testify during the trial, out of some 4,000 people who have been registered as victims in the case.

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