Former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre [BBC backgrounder] will stand trial next month for alleged crimes against humanity, Senegal's Justice Minister Aminata Toure confirmed Tuesday. Senegal's national assembly adopted a law in December allowing Senegal to create a special tribunal [JURIST report] with the African Union (AU) [official website], which has already been offered financial support by Belgium. The trial is expected to start in early February. Habre's accusations include torture, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during his eight-year rule from 1982 to 1990.
Habre fled to Senegal after being deposed in 1990 and denies charges of killing and torturing tens of thousands of his opponents after coming to power in a bloody coup in 1982. The AU began talks with Senegal to come up with a plan for Habre's trial after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website] ruled [JURIST report] in July that Senegal must either try Habre promptly or extradite him to Belgium for trial. The court's legally binding order also noted that Senegal had failed to make serious efforts to prosecute Habre, who has been been under house arrest there since 2005. In March lawyers for the Belgian government asked [JURIST report] the ICJ to force Senegal to bring Habre to trial in Belgium. In July 2011 Senegal reversed its decision to deport Habre [JURIST report] back to Chad after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] warned of possible torture. That month Pillay issued the plea [JURIST report] to stay Habre's deportation to Chad after the nation's courts sentenced him to death in absentia.