[JURIST] A criminal court in chad on Wednesday sentenced seven ex-police officers to life in prison for crimes committed during the rule of dictator Hissene Habré [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The former members of Habre’s Directorate of Documentation and Security Directorate (DDS) were accused [JURIST report] of murder, torture, kidnapping, arbitrary detention, and assault and battery. Counsel for Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] Reed Brody stated [press release] in regards to the sentences, “[t]wenty-four years after the end of the Habré dictatorship, and fourteen years after the survivors filed their complaints, today’s convictions and the order of reparations are a stunning victory for Hissène Habré’s victims.” The criminal court in Chad also ordered USD $125 million in reparations to be paid to 7,000 victims and families
Habré, who fled to Senegal after being deposed in 1990, was indicted by the Extraordinary African Chambers in July 2013 and placed in pretrial detention. His trial is scheduled to begin in May 2015. In 2013 more than 1,000 victims filed [JURIST report] 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.