Former President of Chad, 79-year-old Hissén Habré, who was sentenced to life in prison in 2016, died in a Senegalese prison. informs France 24. Information about the death of Habré was confirmed by the authorities of Senegal. According to the local press, the former dictator, nicknamed “African Pinochet”, died of complications caused by the coronavirus.
By decision of a special tribunal established by the African Union in agreement with the Senegalese authorities, in 2016, Hissén Habré was found guilty of committing crimes against humanity and sentenced to life imprisonment. He appealed the sentence, but the special court of appeal in the capital of Senegal, Dakar, upheld it.
Hissen Habré was born in 1942 into a Muslim nomadic shepherd family of the Tubu people. At the time, Chad was part of the colonial French Equatorial Africa.
In 1960, Chad became an independent republic. Three years later, Habré became deputy prefect of the city of Mussoro, in the same year he was sent to study at the Paris Institute for Political Studies, where he was educated as a political scientist. Returning to his homeland in 1972, he entered the civil service at the Chadian Foreign Office.
Since 1965, there has been a civil war in Chad between the regime of President François Tombalbai and the National Liberation Front of Chad. The government was supported by the southern clans, and the Front was supported by the Muslim population of the north.
Habré was sent to negotiate with the rebels, refused to carry out the mission and joined them, becoming a field commander. Habré’s militants took hostages, including foreigners, with the aim of ransom, which was spent on the purchase of weapons.
In 1975, a military coup took place in Chad, Franusa Tombalbai was killed. A year later, a split occurred among the rebels, and Habré, with the units of the Armed Forces of the North subordinate to him, went over to the side of President Felix Mallum. Subsequently, the field commander served as prime minister and minister of defense.
The rebels, having enlisted the support of the Libyan troops of Muammar Gaddafi in 1980, defeated Habré’s troops. He fled the country and took refuge in Sudan. From there, the supporters of Habré, supported by the United States, France and a number of Arab countries, launched an offensive against Chad. In 1982, having won a military victory, Hissén Habré was proclaimed president of the country. After that, repression began in Chad. Thousands of people have been arrested and tortured. Many of them were killed without trial. According to human rights activists, Habré is guilty of the death of more than 40 thousand people.
In 1990, rebels took over the Chadian capital, N’Djamena. Habré fled to Senegal. For more than 20 years, the ousted dictator lived quietly with his family in the suburbs of Dakar. But in 2013 he was arrested, and three years later the court found him guilty of murdering 40 thousand people. For crimes against humanity, he was sentenced to life imprisonment.
The court also ordered Habré to pay compensation to every victim who was raped, arrested and imprisoned for political reasons during his reign, as well as their relatives.
In April 2020, Hissen Habré was released from prison and placed under house arrest in Dakar. In connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, Senegalese President Maki Sall has ordered the release of more than two thousand elderly and sick prisoners from custody. Two months later, the ex-dictator was returned to prison.
Habré “will go down in history as one of the most ruthless dictators in the world,” said lawyer Reed Brody, who represents the interests of victims of repression in Chad. According to him, Hissen Habré “exterminated his people” in order to preserve his personal power.