Former Chadian President, Hissen Habre, is guilty of crimes against humanity, rape and sexual slavery.
Consequently, the 73-year-old will spend the rest of his life in prison in Senegal where the trial by the Extra-ordinary Chamber of Africa took place.
The sentence is historic since it is the first time that an African head of state has been found guilty in another African country. Habre’s case was heard by the Extraordinary African Chambers in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, a special criminal court set up by the African Union within the West African nation’s court system to specifically hear the case.
A 1992 Chadian Truth Commission accused Habre’s government of systematic torture, saying that 40 000 people died during his rule eight year rule from 1982-1990.
The verdict on Monday was a culmination of a 16-year battle by victims and rights campaigners to bring the former leader to justice in Senegal, where he fled after being toppled in a 1990 coup in Chad.
Over 90 witnesses testified and a majority gave chilling accounts of how torture. One of the most notorious detention centres in the capital N’Djamena was a converted swimming pool. Witnesses said victims endured electric shocks, near-asphyxia, cigarette burns, waterboarding while some had gas sprayed into their eyes or spice rubbed into their genitals.
Reed Brody, a lawyer for Human Rights Watch who has spent the last 15 years working with victims to bring Habre to justice, said the landmark case could encourage others to bring similar action.
Read: Q&A: The Case of Hissène Habré before the Extraordinary African Chambers in Senegal.
Graphics courtesy of AFP.