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Senegal may drop charges against Chad ex-dictator Habre

[JURIST] Senegal may drop charges against former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre [HRW materials; JURIST news archive] who was sentenced to death in absentia [JURIST report] in Chad on Friday, according to Monday media reports. Senegalese Justice Minister Madicke Niang said that Habre could not be tried twice on the same charges, although human rights activists argue that Habre's indictment in Chad for armed rebellion was different from the human rights abuse charges he faces in Senegal. Senegal has long been criticized for allegedly delaying Habre's trial, although it recently adopted constitutional amendments [JURIST report] to allow for his prosecution. BBC News has more. AFP has additional coverage.

Habre has been accused of involvement in the murder or torture of more than 40,000 political opponents during his rule from 1982 to 1990. Senegal courts have long refused to extradite Habre, despite Belgium's issuance of an international arrest warrant [JURIST reports] under its universal jurisdiction laws [HRW backgrounder]. Under growing international pressure to either try Habre locally or extradite him to Belgium, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade [official profile, in French; BBC profile] agreed in April 2006 to try him in Senegal and the Senegalese government later determined [JURIST report] he would face charges in a criminal court, rather than in front of a special tribunal. A Senegalese court dismissed a previous action against him in 2001 [HRW case backgrounder], claiming that it lacked jurisdiction over crimes committed elsewhere.

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