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Habre lawyers say war crimes trial 'political'

11 April 2014, 14:55

Dakar - The lawyers for Chad's former dictator Hissene Habre said on Thursday his prosecution in Senegal for genocide was politically motivated and driven by the Chadian spy agency.

The 71-year-old faces accusations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture during his regime in Chad between 1982 and 1990, when at least 40 000 people were killed, according to rights groups.

Arrested in July last year after more than two decades in exile in Senegal, Habre - once dubbed "Africa's Pinochet" - was placed on remand in the Senegalese capital Dakar where he is to stand trial in 2015 after years of delays.

Senegal and Chad have said they are keen for the trial to be televised and aired on the radio.

"We are faced with the execution of a political mandate. This investigation has from the outset been manipulated by the Chadian intelligence services," Francois Serres, one of Habre's lawyers, told reporters in Dakar.

He said the dictator would not get a fair trial and accused Mbacke Fall, the chief prosecutor of a special court set up in Dakar in February last year to try Habre, of violating the presumption of his client's innocence.

Habre's regime was marked by fierce repression of his opponents and the targeting of ethnic groups, and in 1990 he fled to Senegal after being ousted by the current president Idriss Deby Itno.

Chad's Commission of Inquiry into Habre's alleged crimes estimates that only 4 000 of his victims have ever been identified.

Habre's lawyers have accused Fall of a "violation of the secrecy of the investigation" and say they have been barred from seeing their client or accessing the prosecution case.



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