Lawyers’ strike halts Habré henchmen trial in Chad
The trial of 21 former political police agents of Chad’s ex-president Hissène Habré was adjourned last week after just a handful of hearings. The reason for delay is an on-going lawyers’ strike over a pay dispute with the government.
Since the 14 November opening [IJT170], only two defendants appeared before court.
Henry Thulliez, who monitors the case for Human Rights Watch, told IJT that the strike is slowing things down. “But the court’s decision to adjourn the hearings until [lawyers] come back demonstrates a will to respect the procedural rules,” he said. “Only a fair trial will have a real impact. Since its beginning, at least, a few victims have been able to speak.”
Thulliez added that the fact that state broadcaster TV Chad reported on the case “raises hopes that the trial could have an educational and deterrent effect”.
Among the victims who spoke was Oumar Goudja. With obvious relief, the 60-something year-old said: “I have been waiting for 24 years.” He testified against Nodjigoto Haunan, a former coordinator in the Directorate of Documentation and Security (DDS).
Haunan admitted working in the DDS from late 1987 until August 1989, but denied all charges.
“I don’t know this man,” he said, referring to Goudja.