Landmark Chadian trial against Habré henchmen comes to an end

24 March 2015 by Nathalie Magnien, N'Djamena (Chad)

After a 26-year wait and a four-month trial that saw victims finally confront alleged criminal accomplices of former dictator Hissène Habré [IJT-170], a Chad court is expected to deliver its ruling on 25 March. Judges will decide the fate of the 21 accused, facing charges of torture, murder, illegal arrest and arbitrary detention.

Chadians demonstrate for justice in January, following a second suspension of the trial against Habré’s henchmen (Photo: Twitter/@HenriThulliez)
Image caption: 
Chadians demonstrate for justice in January, following a second suspension of the trial against Habré’s henchmen (Photo: Twitter/@HenriThulliez)

During their closing arguments, lawyers of civil parties read a list of dozens of names found in the archives of the Directorate of Documentation and Security (DDS), the political police during the Habré regime. All were prisoners. And for all of them, the word “deceased” appears on administrative documents drawn up during their imprisonment. No traces were found of many others who were apprehended between 1982 and 1990. After their arrest – usually in the middle of the night and without any legal grounds – they simply vanished, their bodies never to be found.

The 50 civil parties participating in the trial comprise direct victims claiming to have been illegally arrested, detained and/or tortured in prison as well as indirect victims who lost loved ones under similar circumstances.

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