Former France and US ally, Hissein Habré, one of Africa’s dangerous and deadly dictators has been finally caught and placed this week into police custody in the Senegalese capital Dakar.
Habré, who ruled Chad with iron-fist from 1982 to 1980 with the help of the US and France, is said to have ordered the torture, imprisonment and execution of thousands of people in this impoverished Cental African nation.
He fled Chad in 1990 after been overthrown by another dictator, current head of state Idriss Deby – again with the help of France and the US.
He has since been living in Senegal like a ‘prince’, under the protection of Senegalese authorities.
Human Rights Watch and families of victims are delighted and relieved that Habré is finally behind bars, and will soon face the music over his ‘inhumane’ actions.
This is a milestone in the long campaign to bring him to justice (…), the wheels of justice are turning,” Reed Brody, counsel for Human Rights Watch who has worked with Habré’s victims since 1999, said.
“After 22 years, Habré’s victims can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, Brody added.
Many in Africa thought Habré was going to be extradited to the International Criminal Court (ICC). But the former blood-sucker will instead be tried in the Extraordinary African Chambers established in the Senegalese court system in February, Human Rights Watch said.
The United States and France supported Habré throughout his rule, seeing him as a bulwark against Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, Human Rights Watch said.
Under President Ronald Reagan, the United States gave covert CIA paramilitary support to help Habré take power, the rights organisation added.
His trial is set to last almost a year and has cost over US$12 million, most of which is being footed by the European Union, as the African Union said it did not have money to pay for the trial of one of his sons.
There are still many Habrés on the African continent lurking in the darkness and in broadaylight and posing a clear and present danger to innocent populations and opposition politicians.
Many experts believe that they will also face the music as soon as they leave power.
Some said the fear to be dragged before the ICC or any court for that matter is said to be one of the main reasons many African heads of state want to stay in power ‘forever’.
Photo: Former Chad dictator Hissein Habré