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Habre will face trial in domestic criminal court: Senegal justice minister

[JURIST] Former Chadian president Hissene Habre [HRW materials; JURIST news archive], who has been charged with crimes against humanity, will stand trial before a Senegalese criminal court, rather than before a special tribunal as previously decided, Senegal's Justice Minister Sheik Tidiane Sy said Thursday. At an assembly last year, leaders of the African Union [official website] decided that Habre would face trial in Africa [JURIST report] on charges that he committed torture, mass killings, and other abuses in the 1980s. Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade [official profile, in French; BBC profile] had said his country was "best-placed" to try Habre, who has been in exile there since a coup forced him from power in 1990. Sy said Thursday, however, that Wade did not want to spend the amount of money necessary for a special African war crimes tribunal.

The decision to try Habre came after an AU panel recommended [JURIST report] that Habre be tried in Senegal, Chad or another African nation that has adopted the international Convention Against Torture [text], rather than in Belgium, which issued an arrest warrant [JURIST report] for the ex-dictator. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] has expressed concern [JURIST report] that Senegal will not try Habre promptly, pointing out that the country has twice refused to allow the prosecution to proceed. Earlier this year, the Senegalese parliament passed a law permitting Habre's trial to take place in the West African country. AFP has more.

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