Chad’s former president ordered to compensate victims

DAKAR, Senegal: A Dakar-based African extraordinary court Friday ordered Chad’s former president to compensate victims who suffered from his decade-long rule.

Hissene Habre was convicted in May of war crimes, rape, sexual slavery, and crimes against humanity and was sentenced to life in prison.

The decision was read out by Chief Judge Gberdao Gustave Kam of Burkina Faso, presiding over a special court set up by the African Union.

The ruling comes two months after a group of over 4,700 victims, represented by Chadian lawyer Jacqueline Moudeina, asked the court to order that Habré pay 168.4 billion West African CFA francs ($287 million) in individual and collective reparations.

The ruling comes two months after the initial conviction and sentence, which Habre’s lawyers described as unfair.

The court awarded each survivor of rape and sexual slavery 20 million CFA francs ($34,00), while each survivor of torture and arbitrary detention and ill-treatment and former prisoners of war would get 15 million CFA francs ($25,500), and family members of victims 10 million CFA francs ($17,000).

“This landmark decision recognizes that Hissène Habré’s crimes ruined the lives of thousands of people who have the right to reparations,” said Reed Brody, a human rights lawyer who has worked with the survivors since 1999.

“With this verdict, we will spare no effort to locate and seize Habré’s assets and make sure the victims are compensated.” he added.

The court has already frozen some assets belonging to Habré including a house in an upscale Dakar neighborhood thought to be worth about 680,000 euros ($760,000) as well as some small bank accounts. Habré is thought to have much more extensive assets.

Habre was Chad’s seventh president, who ruled the central African country with an iron fist from 1982 to 1990 before being ousted by Idriss Deby, Chad’s current president.

In the quarter-century since his overthrow, Habre has lived in exile in Senegal.

Following 19 months of investigations, the Senegalese authorities — working in tandem with the African Union — indicted Habre in mid-2013 for war crimes and crimes against humanity, placing him under provisional detention.

The former military ruler had overthrown President Goukouni Oueddei in 1982.

According to Chadian and international rights groups, Habre is responsible for the deaths of around 40,000 people.


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