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Page last updated at 08:51 GMT, Monday, 18 August 2008 09:51 UK

Senegal doubts over Habre trial

Chad's former President Hissene Habre (File photo: 1990)
Hissene Habre's regime has been accused of widespread atrocities

Senegal's justice minister has suggested dropping a case against former Chad President Hissen Habre.

Madicke Niang said Mr Habre, who was sentenced to death in absentia by Chad on Friday for armed rebellion, could not be judged twice on the same facts.

Mr Habre, an exile in Senegal, is accused of widespread human rights abuses during his eight years in power.

Human rights activists said the trial in Chad was based on separate charges to those Mr Habre faces in Senegal.

Mr Habre, sometimes dubbed "Africa's Pinochet", settled in Senegal after he was deposed in 1990 by Chadian President Idriss Deby.

A commission of inquiry has said Mr Habre's government was responsible for some 40,000 politically motivated murders and 200,000 cases of torture.

He denies knowledge of the alleged murder and torture of political opponents.

Way out?

On Friday he was sentenced to death along with several rebel leaders, who launched an assault on the Chadian capital, N'Djamena, earlier this year.

Mr Deby has been fighting a sporadic rebellion in the east along Chad border with Sudan's Darfur region.

"Habre cannot be brought to justice in another jurisdiction to be judged on the same facts," Mr Niang told the RFM radio station.

But a spokesman for the African Alliance for the Defence of Human Rights noted that Mr Habre had been convicted in Chad for armed rebellion, not for alleged human rights abuses when he was in power.

Senegal was asked by the African Union to try Mr Habre over the human rights accusations in 2006.

The BBC's Tidiane Sy reports from Senegal that Mr Niang's comments raise new suspicions that the Senegalese government is trying to find a way out of the case or at least delay it.

Senegalese authorities long shown reluctance to try Mr Habre after he was ousted in 1990, he says.

Senegal last month passed new laws enabling it to put Mr Habre on trial.

But at the same time, Mr Niang appealed for international help in raising the 18bn CFA francs ($43m) he said were needed to proceed with the trial.


SEE ALSO
Senegal 'ready' for Habre trial
24 Jul 08 |  Africa
Profile: Chad's Hissene Habre
03 Jul 06 |  Africa
Chad euphoric at Habre's arrest
17 Nov 05 |  Africa

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