Chad struggles to follow Habré trial while Dakar strains to keep accused in dock

16 September 2015 by Nathalie Magnien, N'Djamena (Chad)

After grumbling from Chad that people there could not properly follow the proceedings of Hissène Habré, which resumed this month before the Extraordinary African Chambers (EAC), the trial of the ex-dictator was suddenly broadcast live on national television Tuesday.

Despite reported trouble with the audio-feed, this was the first time many victims in Chad – where 99 percent of the population lacks access to the internet and cannot follow the live-stream the EAC provides on its website – could see testimony in the case against their country’s former leader, accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture.

Image caption: 
Screenshot showing Hissène Habré attending his historic trial before the EAC in September (Photo: Twitter/@ReedBrody)

After several days of testimony from former Amnesty International campaigner Mike Dottridge, Tuesday saw key testimony from Mahamat Hassan Abakar, the former chairman of the Chadian inquiry into the crimes of the Habré regime, which was set up in 1990. He told the court that he believed the ex-strongman was directly responsible for the crimes committed by his feared political police – the Directorate of Documentation and Security (DDS).

“The executions were directly ordered by Hissène Habré,” he told the judges.

The sudden live transmission of the case came as a surprise to many who had been complaining they were unable to follow the trial properly. It is unsure if it will continue to be broadcast in the coming weeks and months.

Messy start

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