Hissène Habré, the former dictator of Chad, has been found guilty of crimes against humanity committed during his eight-year rule and sentenced to life in prison.
Habré was convicted Monday of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and rape, the BBC reported, nearly a year after his trial began. The verdict came from a court in Senegal specially appointed by the African Union to judge Habré. Habré's victims and human-rights groups had spent almost two decades trying to bring him to justice.
Reed Brody, the Human Rights Campaign lawyer who initiated the case against Habre, praised Monday the efforts of the victims, many of whom recalled experiences of torture in their testimonies against Habré while the former ruler sat in the same room.
“This verdict sends a powerful message that the days when tyrants could brutalize their people, pillage their treasury, and escape abroad to a life of luxury are coming to an end,” Brody said in a statement. “Today will be carved into history as the day that a band of unrelenting survivors brought their dictator to justice.”
The trial was a landmark event in international criminal justice. In Africa, it marked the first time in which the courts of one country prosecuted the former ruler of another for alleged human-rights abuses.