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Hissène Habré lawyer questions legality of African court ahead of trial next week


With barely a week for the resumption of the trial of former Chadian leader Hissène Habré, his lawyer has launched yet appeal to stop the trial by the Extraordinary African Chambers.

The trial of the former dictator got off on a troubled note as he challenged the legitmacy of the court and refused to appear before it on July 20, 2015.

Hissène Habré is standing trial for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture believed to have been perpetuated during his term in office.

He took power in a military coup in Chad in 1982 and ruled until he was overthrown by incumbent President Idriss Déby in another coup in 1990.

Mr. Habré‘s regime is believed to have been responsible for the death or disappearance of nearly 40,000 people – victims of a repressive governance system.

But before his trial resumes in the Senegalese capital Dakar from February 8 to 12, Mr. Habré‘s lawyer, Francois Serres has again raised doubts over the locus of the Extraordinary African Chambers (EAC) to try his client.

At a media briefing in Dakar on Thursday, Francois Serres said they consider the EAC an ‘illegal institution’.

“We do not recognise the African Chambers, (and) it’s legitimacy. We consider it an illegal institution leading an unfair process. This is why today we have decided to plead before the only forum that we recognize, which is the opinion of the Senegalese, African and international public.” He accused the EAC of being funded by a Chadian politician who once staged a coup d’etat and whose sole objective is to wipe out Mr. Habré. An apparent reference to the incumbent Chadian leader.

The fight to bring the former Chadian dictator to justice has been long and perilous, spanning over twenty years.

Hissène Habré was indicted in February 1990 in Senegal where he had fled into exile but it was not until 2012 when President Macky Sall assumed office that a process to try the former leader began following an order from the international Court of Justice for Senegal to prosecute or extradite Mr. Habré.