Following the health concerns raised by the wife of Chad’s former leader Hissène Habré who was convicted in 2016 as a war criminal, victims have expressed concern with what they describe as an ongoing campaign for his release from prison.
Habré, former president of Chad fled the country from 1982 to 1990, and it was only in 2016 that he was convicted by a court in Senegal of crimes against humanity and war crimes. There he was sentenced to life imprisonment.
“It would be unfair for Habré to be pardoned.” Said one of the ex-president’s victims Clement Abaifouta, He went on to add that “I think that Hissène Habré’s wife is simply trying to create some kind of compassion to try and make people accept a potential pardoning that is not what we the victims have ever wanted. We’ve never wanted for Hissène Habré, who was sentenced to jail for everything he’s done during his time in office, to benefit from any kind of pardon.”
Recently Habré’s wife have been raising concerns towards the deteriorating health condition of her husband as she told Radio France Internationale last month that the former president’s health is deteriorating and accused prison officials of ignoring him when he fell in a bathroom.
According to Fatime Raymonnem, Habré’s wife, her husband suffered a heart attack last month and was only allowed to notify after the incident using a phone that was given to him. Reed Brody, a lawyer from Human Rights Watch who worked with victims in the case, told Newsday he is skeptical of Mrs Habré’s plea.
“When he fled Chad he literary emptied out the treasury and he used that money to buy influence and protection in Senegal and that’s in fact why it took 25 years to get him to court in the first place. Now those same supporters are pressing on, they are saying he’s 77-years-old, he fell in the shower, Mrs Habre has been on the front pages of Senegalese newspapers asking for his release on compassionate grounds,” he said.
Habré was convicted of rape, sexual slavery and ordering killings and ordered to pay up to $33,000 (£27,000) to each of his victims or their surviving relatives.
According to Mr Brody, Habre has hidden his money under the names of relatives making it hard to trace his finances and the victims have never been paid the judgement money.