France seeks fair trial for Chad's ex-dictator Habre

11th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Monday that Hissene Habre should be given a fair trial, after Senegal suspended plans to expel the former Chadian president over concerns for his safety.

"France, like most European Union countries, is against the death penalty. We hope that ... Hissene Habre will have a fair trial," Juppe told journalists in Mauritania as he wrapped up a visit to the west African country.

Senegal on Sunday reversed a decision to send Habre to Chad, where he faces the death penalty for alleged rights abuses, after UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said he could be tortured there.

Habre ruled Chad from 1982 until 1990, when he was ousted by incumbent President General Idriss Deby Itno and fled into exile in Senegal, where he has been living since.

A 1992 truth commission report in Chad said Habre had presided over 40,000 political murders and widespread torture.

Habre was charged in Senegal in February 2000, but the indictment was dismissed by a Dakar appeals court on the basis that crimes against humanity were not part of Senegalese criminal law.

Senegal subsequently amended its penal code. But no trial ever started in spite of an African Union mandate for the country to try Habre, partly because Senegal wanted guarantees that it would not have to foot the bill.

However since donors pledged more than eight million euros (11.4 million dollars) in 2010 to finance the trial, Senegal came under mounting pressure to act, while being accused by rights groups of shielding Habre.

Brussels is pressing for Senegal to extradite Habre to Belgium, which has wanted to try him since 2005, when it issued an international arrest warrant against him for "serious violations of international humanitarian law".

© 2011 AFP

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