Senegal, Chad agree to investigate war crimes in Chad

May 4, 2013 at 1:35 PM

DAKAR, Senegal, May 4 (UPI) -- Chad has agreed to allow Senegal to carry out an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre in the 1980s.

Senegal and Chad signed an agreement Friday, Voice of America reported.

Habre was in power from 1982 until a 1990 military coup. He is accused being responsible for more than 40,000 political killings, torture and other human rights violations.

The former dictator has been living under house arrest in Dakar, Senegal, since 1994.

"Investigating and prosecuting crimes that happened 20 years ago in another country is a very complex task. And normally, judges from one country have to go through a very cumbersome task to collect evidence from another country. What this agreement does, is it basically allows the court to investigate in Chad, as if they were investigating in Senegal," said Reed Brody, a lawyer for Human Rights Watch.

Brody said the agreement between Chad and Senegal allows for Senegalese judges to travel to Chad, speak with witnesses, visit former prisons and do whatever else is necessary to investigate charges against Habre.

"It's important for the integrity of the process that Senegalese judges see that evidence and weigh that evidence before them -- the court that's going to try Hissene Habre. And the judges are also looking for evidence that could exculpate Hissene Habre. So they need to look at witnesses who Hissene Habre wants to present," Brody said.

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