The trial of former Chad head of state Hissène Habré (70) should start sometime this year, Djenaba Diarra, acting legal counsel of the African Union, told the media on Monday at the AU headquarters in the Ethiopian capital Addis-Ababa.
Strongman, dictator, warlord and butcher Habré, who stole millions of dollars and oversaw the killing of some 2000 innocent people, including political rivals and journalists, has been living in Dakar, Senegal since 1990. Human Rights Watch claims he authorised tens of thousands of political murders and physical torture.
He led the improverished central Africa state from 1982 to 1990 when he was overthrown by the French.
Diarra said progress has been made regarding the Habré case in collaboration with the Republic of Senegal, which was mandated in 2006 by the AU Assembly to judge Habré on behalf of Africa.
Critics say former Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade, believed to be a Habre close friend, stifled all attempts by the international community to try or chase Habre out of Senegal.
But Diarra said President Macky Sall has taken concrete steps toward the trial since his ascension to power.
“The technicalities, including the extraordinary chambers located within the national court of Senegal are being worked out,” she said, adding that the trial was important for the AU.
“It shows our willingness to fight impunity and shows that we have adequate African mechanism to address African issues,” she said.
It is believed the Habré trial will cost 11.7 million USD. But Diarra said the funding could be provided by pledges made in 2010 by Africa and the international community, and confirmed in 2011.
*Hissène Habré, former Chad dictator.