The appeal verdict on the final conviction in the case of ex-Chad dictator Hissein Habré was held on Thursday in the Senegalese capital, Dakar.
The appeal verdict was a huge victory but also a warning for the president following his landmark conviction last year.
“This is a strong message directed to all African dictators: attention, you will only remain unpunished, you no longer cultivate this impunity. It is impossible,” said Jacqueline Moudeina, one of the lawyers of the victims.
This is a strong message directed to all African dictators: attention, you will only remain unpunished, you no longer cultivate this impunity. It is impossible.
The Extraordinary African Chambers, a body created by Senegal and the African Union (AU), sentenced Habre last May to life behind bars, an unprecedented ruling seen as a blow to the impunity long enjoyed by autocratic rulers.
In July, the court further ruled that Habre should give up to 30,000 euros ($33,000) to each victim of abuses committed during his 1982-1990 rule, as well as to their relatives.
“The innocence of President Habré was recognized all over the world. Today, the opinion is mostly widespread in the world, it is a bad trial which was given to President Habré. No demonstration of his guilt has been made,” said Mbaye Sène, Hissein Habre lawyer.
The trial, the first of its kind held in Africa, was given legitimacy to the Extraordinary African Chambers.
“The International Criminal Court was always giving its role, which is a role that simply complete the national courts. So if today we demonstrate that we are capable, Africa is capable of judging Africans, and well there will be no more need to appeal to this Court, because we have shown our capacity, demonstrated a capacity to judge ours,” said Jacqueline Moudeina, Counsel of the victims.
The announcement of the verdict marks the end of the activities of the extraordinary African Chambers as expected by their status.
Approximately 82 billion CFA francs or more than EUR 125 million will be paid to nearly 7,400 victims.