Senegal Trial Hears Grim Torture Methods Of Habre Brutal Regime

Prosecutors in Senegal spelled out on Tuesday some of the cruel abuses meted out to detainees of Chadian ex-dictator Hissene Habre's brutal regime, including the infamous "Arbatachar" torture method.

The 72-year-old's war crimes trial in Dakar heard how the punishment -- in which a prisoner's four limbs were tied together behind their back, causing excruciating pain -- was a preferred technique of the feared secret police.

Clerks of the court read out a lengthy document detailing the circumstances of the charges against him, including his alleged complicity in the abuses of the Documentation and Security Directorate (DDS).

Torture of suspects included electric shocks, gas sprayed into eyes, spice rubbed into their private parts and waterboarding, the court heard.

Habre -- once backed by France and the United States as a bulwark against Libya's Moamer Kadhafi -- is accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture between 1982 and 1990.

An estimated 40,000 people were killed under his regime, and the Extraordinary African Chambers, whose authority Habre refuses to recognise, is charged with ruling on whether the dictator is personally responsible.

"Among those arrested, many had their property confiscated or looted. The confiscation was done on the orders of higher authorities," the indictment read out to the hearing said.

"The assets were handed over to the general management of the DDS. Salaries were blocked. Houses were allocated to military officers," said the document, quoting testimony from victims.

Habre was overthrown after eight years in power in 1990 and fled to Senegal, where he was arrested in June 2013 and has since been in custody.

Delayed for years, the trial sets an historic precedent as African leaders accused of atrocities have previously been tried in international courts.

Tuesday's proceedings were interrupted several times, including by a Chadian who was expelled after standing up to make a speech, before the court adjourned until Wednesday.

( AFP )
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