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Convicted Chadian ex-leader Hissène Habré dies

Hissène Habré

Hissène Habré ruled Chad with an iron fist from 1982-90

Chad’s former ruler Hissène Habré has died at the age of 79 while serving a life sentence for crimes against humanity.

He was being treated for a coronavirus infection, reports say.

Habré was found guilty in 2016 of crimes committed while he was president from 1982 to 1990. The conviction was the result of a landmark trial in Senegal.

It was the first time an African Union-backed court had tried a former ruler for human rights abuses.

Habré was accused of being behind rape, sexual slavery and ordering killings while in power. He denied any knowledge of the crimes.

Torture by secret police

During the trial, survivors recounted gruesome details of the torture carried out by Habré’s feared secret police. One of the most notorious detention centres in the capital, N’Djaména, was a converted swimming pool.

Witnesses said victims endured electric shocks, near-asphyxia, cigarette burns and having gas squirted into their eyes.

In 1990 he was overthrown by rebels, eventually seeking refuge in Senegal. Two decades later, a court in Chad sentenced him to death in absentia for crimes against humanity.

Commenting on Habré’s death, Reed Brody, who had campaigned for the ex-president to be put on trial, said he “will go down in history as one of the world’s most pitiless dictators, a man who slaughtered his own people”.

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