Tribunal orders Chad ex-ruler to pay millions to victims

AP News
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Posted: Jul 29, 2016 11:59 AM
Tribunal orders Chad ex-ruler to pay millions to victims

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — A tribunal ordered Chad's ex-dictator Hissene Habre on Friday to pay more than 4,700 victims at least $17,000 each for abuses suffered during his time in power.

The Extraordinary African Chambers in Senegal found Habre guilty and sentenced him to life imprisonment on May 30 for crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture and sex crimes committed during his presidency from 1982-1990.

The trial against Habre began in July 2015 and was the first in which courts of one country prosecuted the former ruler of another for alleged human rights crimes. Victims and survivors had been pressing for the case for more than 15 years.

Judge Gberdao Gustave Kam awarded about $34,000 each to victims of sexual violence, $25,000 to those imprisoned or tortured and $17,000 to indirect victims. The court didn't announce the total figure but it is estimated to be more than $85 million.

Jacqueline Moudeina, head lawyer for the civil parties, said lawyers would consult victims to see if they want to appeal. They had requested $285 million and a monument in honor of those who died.

"There was great suffering, so it is entirely normal that a victim would say they are not satisfied," she said.

Amnesty International welcomed the decision, saying it will enable the victims to move forward and sets a global example.

"It demonstrates the urgent need for reparation even when decades have passed since the crimes were committed," said Erica Bussey, Senior Legal Advisor Africa.

Amnesty also urged continued investigations into the abuses, and that parties involved in the tribunal, and the international community, ensure sufficient resources to pay reparations.

A 1992 Chadian Truth Commission accused Habre's government of systematic torture, saying 40,000 people died during his rule. It also accused Habre of stealing an amount equivalent at the time to $13 million from the national treasury before fleeing to Senegal in 1990.

The tribunal has already frozen some of Habre's assets. The defense has 15 days to appeal the reparation award. They have already appealed the conviction.

In March 2015, a Chad criminal court convicted 20 security agents involved in the abuses and rewarded 7,000 victims reparations of about 75 billion CFA francs ($125 million). The money has not yet been paid.