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The trial of former Chadian President, Hissène Habré, resumes today, February 8th, 2016, in Dakar, Senegal. The lawyers from both sides will be making their final oral arguments in a week expected to see proceedings come to a close before a verdict is given in May 2016.
The Habré trial reached a major milestone on December 15th, 2015, the day the last witness testified before the Extraordinary African Chambers (EAC) in Dakar, Senegal. The EAC was set up under an agreement between the Government of Senegal and the African Union with a mandate to try serious crimes allegedly committed in Chad between 1982 and 1990.
The trial opened officially on 20 July 2015 but was immediately suspended for 45 days after the defense counsels refused to appear before the Court. The Presiding Judge subsequently issued a ruling to assign court-appointed lawyers to the defendant.
From 7 September through 15 December 2015, Justice Gustave Kam and two other Senegalese judges attended 55 hearings to audition 92 witnesses, victims and experts. All of these hearings were summarized in comprehensive reports by Senegalese law graduates with the support of TrustAfrica. For a period of 4 months the defense counsels, victims’ lawyers and the EAC’s Chief Prosecutor and judges thoroughly examined the charges (war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of torture) against Habré.
The alleged victims’ initial testimonies in the first month of hearings shed light on the social and political context of the Habré regime. But the main highlights in September were the forced appearance of the accused and the disturbances orchestrated by his supporters.