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Senegal probe for Habre crimes against humanity trial to begin within months

[JURIST] Senegalese prosecutors will begin an investigation into former Chadian president Hissene Habre [HRW materials; JURIST news archive] within months so that Habre can face trial for alleged torture and mass killings in Senegal in the 1980s, victims' lawyers said Monday. Senegalese officials said earlier this year that Habre's trial would probably not begin for another three years [JURIST report] in order to give Senegal sufficient time to establish the necessary legal procedures and raise enough funds for the proceeding. In July, the government determined that Habre would stand trial in a criminal court [JURIST report] rather than in front of a special tribunal, possibly hastening the trial. Human rights groups, however, have still criticized Senegal for its lack of progress.

African Union leaders decided last year that Habre would face trial in Senegal [decision, PDF; JURIST report] for committing some 40,000 alleged acts of murder and torture of political opponents during his rule from 1982 to 1990, after which he fled to Senegal. Following an initial attempt to have charges brought against Habre in Senegal failed, victims took their case to Belgium, where prosecutors indicted him on crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture charges in 2005 under Belgium's universal jurisdiction laws. Senegal has since agreed to the AU's determination that Habre should face trial in that country, with Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade saying that his country was "best-placed" to try Habre. Right groups have urged Senegal to build on the work of Belgian investigators to speed up the trial. AFP has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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