The Extraordinary African Chambers [official website] in Senegal on Wednesday suspended the trial of former Chadian leader Hissène Habré [BBC profile] on charges of crimes against humanity, torture and war crimes.The suspension of the trial is reportedly [AFP report] due to the need for court appointed attorneys to prepare Habré’s defense. Habré has denied the chargses against him and even attempted to refuse the services of his appointed attorneys. Human rights groups have reported the thousands of deaths under his rule and have called the trial [HRW press release] “a tribute to the survivors of his brutal rule who never gave up fighting for justice.” The trial is set to resume on September 7.
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 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 [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.