Lawyers for Chad ex-dictator Habre appeal life sentence
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — The legal team for Chad’s former dictator Hissene Habre has appealed the verdict handed down by a special tribunal that found him guilty and sentenced him to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture and sex crimes during his time in power, one of his lawyers said Saturday.
The appeal was submitted Friday to the Extraordinary African Chambers, set up by Senegal and the African Union to try Habre for crimes committed during his 1982-1990 rule.
It was the first trial in which the courts of one country prosecuted the former ruler of another for alleged human rights crimes.
“We are convinced of his innocence for all charges he’s facing,” said one of Habre’s court-appointed lawyers, Mounir Ballal, calling the life sentence announced May 30 too severe. The Chambers appointed three lawyers for Habre after he refused representation at the start of the trial in July, calling the trial politically motivated.
The Chambers will now put in a place a court of appeals, likely around August, said Chambers spokesman Marcel Mendy. The court will be composed of a president, who is neither Chadian nor Senegalese, along with three Senegalese assessors, including an alternate, all appointed by the African Union, he said.
Decisions on reparations for the more than 4,000 parties who filed suit against Habre are expected by July 31, Mendy said.
The victims, their relatives and survivors have been pursuing the case against their former leader for more than 15 years.
A 1992 Chadian Truth Commission accused Habre’s government of systematic torture, saying 40,000 people died during his rule.