Senegal signs accord to try ex-Chadian dictator Habre
Posted Thursday, August 23 2012 at 03:01
Senegal and the African Union signed an agreement in Dakar on Wednesday to create a special tribunal to try former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre who is accused of war crimes.
"Through the agreement, we are setting the procedure by which the trial should take place... there are no more obstacles," said Senegal's Justice Minister Aminata Toure after signing the agreement with African Union representative Robert Dossou.
"This is a big step... toward a fair trial," Toure said. "We lost a lot of time but the key thing is being done. We are moving resolutely towards the holding of the trial."
Habre has been living in Senegal since fleeing his country in 1990 after being ousted by President Idriss Deby Itno. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) had ordered Senegal to either try Habre or extradite him.
A 1992 truth commission report in Chad said that during his time in power, Habre presided over up to 40,000 political murders and widespread torture.
While mandated by the African Union to put Habre on trial in 2006, Senegal dragged its feet for years under President Abdoulaye Wade, citing problems in jurisdiction and then funding.
But events took on a new momentum last month when Senegal's president since April, Macky Sall -- unlike his stalling predecessor Wade -- said at an African Union summit in Addis Ababa that he had a "strong commitment" to see Senegal try Habre.
After four days of talks in Dakar, a draft agreement was drawn up between the AU and the Senegalese government on the creation of extraordinary African chambers within the Senegalese court structure.