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No Senegal trial of former Chad dictator Habre in 2008: EU adviser

[JURIST] Former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre [HRW materials; JURIST news archive] will not go on trial this year for crimes against humanity, according to an EU official sent to Senegal to advise the court where Habre will be tried [press release]. Bruno Cathala, [official profile] Registrar of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website], said Wednesday that the length of time necessary to complete investigations into the charges against Habre, as well as issues regarding the cost and structure of the trial, will delay it until at least 2009. Cathala's comments echoed the statement of Senegalese officials last year who said that a three-year delay was to be expected before Habre was brought to trial [JURIST report]. Reuters has more.

Last July, the government determined that Habre would stand trial in a criminal court [JURIST report] rather than in front of a special tribunal, possibly hastening the trial. Human rights groups, however, have still criticized Senegal for its lack of progress. African Union [official website] leaders decided in July 2006 that Habre would face trial in Senegal [decision, PDF; JURIST report] for committing some 40,000 alleged acts of murder and torture of political opponents during his rule from 1982 to 1990, after which he fled to Senegal. Following an initial attempt to have charges brought against Habre in Senegal failed, victims took their case to Belgium, where prosecutors indicted him on crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture charges in 2005 under Belgium's universal jurisdiction laws. Senegal has since agreed to the AU's determination that Habre should face trial in that country, with Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade saying that his country was "best-placed" to try Habre. Rights groups have urged Senegal to build on the work of Belgian investigators to speed up the trial. AFP has more.

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