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Former Chad ruler allowed to leave prison for home confinement

By
Don Jacobson
Former Chadian leader Hissene Habre, pictured in 2015 while standing trial for war crimes in Dakar, Senegal, was released from jail for 60 days. File photo by EPA
Former Chadian leader Hissene Habre, pictured in 2015 while standing trial for war crimes in Dakar, Senegal, was released from jail for 60 days. File photo by EPA

April 7 (UPI) -- Former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre has been released from a Senegal prison to his home for two months due to the coronovirus pandemic.

Senegal's justice ministry said Monday Habre was granted 60 days of home detention because the prison will be used to house inmates quarantined for COVID-19. Authorities also cited Habre's age and vulnerability to the disease as factors in granting him temporary release.

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Habre, who ruled Chad from 1982 to 1990, was sentenced to life in prison by a special African court in 2016 for crimes against humanity that included rape, sexual slavery and for ordering the deaths and torture of tens of thousands of political opponents.

The 78-year-old former ruler was deposed in a 1990 coup and fled to Senegal, where he lived freely until his arrest in 2013. He has been jailed at a prison in Dakar.

Monday's move drew strong opposition from a group representing Habre's victims.

The Association of Victims of Crimes of the Hissene Habre Regime said releasing the former dictator due to the pandemic was "spurious," noting that "he is not in contact with other prisoners and therefore does not risk being contaminated because of the promiscuity that exists in many prisons."

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