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Prosecutor recommends life sentence for former Chad leader

[JURIST] The prosecutor in the trial of Hissène Habré [BBC profile] on Wednesday requested that the former Chadian leader be sentenced to life in prison if convicted. The sentencing recommendation was made by Senegal special prosecutor Mbacke Fall after his closing arguments. Lawyers for the civil parties in this trial began summing up [Guardian report] on Monday. Habré, who has denounced the proceedings [JURIST report] as politically motivated, is accused of committing crimes against humanity, torture and war crimes during his 1982-1990 rule. According to the Chadian truth and reconciliation commission [materials], victims of the secret police network Direction de la Documentation et de la Sécurité (DDS), which Habré allegedly oversaw, may be as many as 40,000. This trial marks the first time [AP report] a former head of state has been tried by another country for alleged human rights violations.

Habré, who fled to Senegal after being deposed in 1990, was indicted [JURIST report] by the Extraordinary African Chambers in July 2013 and placed in pretrial detention. In September the former leader was carried into court [JURIST report] by masked security agents following his refusal to participate in his own trial. In July the Extraordinary African Chambers in Senegal suspended [JURIST report] his trial on charges of crimes against humanity, torture and war crimes, reportedly due to the need for court appointed lawyers to prepare the former leader's defense. In March a criminal court in Chad sentenced [JURIST report] Habré-era police officers to prison tor torture. In 2013 more than 1,000 victims filed for civil party status, asking the Extraordinary African Chambers to officially recognize them as parties with an interest in the matter. The African Union [official website] began talks with Senegal to come up with a plan for Habré's trial after the International Court of Justice [official website] ruled [JURIST report] in July 2012 that Senegal must either try Habré promptly or extradite him to Belgium for trial.

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