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The BBC's Elizabeth Blunt
"When he was overthrown he had gone into exile in nearby Senegal"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 20 March, 2001, 10:49 GMT
No trial for 'Africa's Pinochet'
Former president of Chad Hissen Habre
Habre: Has spent 11 years in exile since his overthrow
A court of appeal in Senegal has upheld a ruling that the former president of Chad, Hissene Habre, should not be made to stand trial in his country of exile.

The court decided that the country's courts do not have the jurisdiction to try Hissene Habre on torture charges during his eight years in power in Chad, AFP news agency reported.

His case has drawn comparisons with that of former Chilean President Augusto Pinochet, who avoided a trial abroad following a legal battle in the United Kingdom.

Mr Habre was put under house arrest more than a year ago after being indicted following 10 untroubled years in exile.

One of the prosecutors, Pascal Kamballe, told the BBC they would now attempt to get Mr Habre charged in Senegal for human rights abuses or again on torture charges in another country.

Killings

International and Senegalese human rights organisations had joined Chadian torture victims in pressing for Mr Habre's prosecution, arguing that he was directly responsible for numerous killings and disappearances and submitted a damning dossier on Mr Habre.

They accuse him of involvement in at least 97 political killings and more than 140 cases of torture.

Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade
President Wade: Reluctant to see trial in Senegal
While much of the worst violence has been blamed on state organisations like the Chadian security police, Mr Habre has been portrayed as a ruthless dictator who had no problem sanctioning murder during his eight years in power.

Human rights activists say the evidence must be brought into the open, and it is Senegal's responsibility to make Mr Habre accountable for his actions.

But sections of the Senegalese judiciary ahd come out against a trial in Dakar.

Reluctance

Senior judges ruled last year that the Senegalese legal system could not prosecute when the alleged offences had been committed elsewhere.

Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade appears to have backed those reservations, making it clear he would rather Mr Habre and his alleged atrocities were taken elsewhere.

Mr Habre has kept a low profile during his 10 year stay in Senegal, keeping a well-guarded house on the outskirts of Dakar.

The former Chadian leader is thought to have substantial private means, including treasury funds he took with him when he fled Chad in late 1990 as enemy forces advanced on the capital.

He has also had no problem in securing top legal advice in the past.

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See also:

05 Jul 00 | Africa
Anger over Habre acquittal
05 Feb 00 | Africa
UN backing for Habre charges
16 May 00 | Africa
Habre's lawyers try to halt trial
05 May 00 | Africa
Crisis on all fronts for Chad
10 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Chad
12 Mar 01 | Africa
Timeline: Chad
20 Mar 01 | Africa
Senegal: A year of President Wade
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