Senegalese police arrest former Chad dictator

Senegalese police on Tuesday arrested a former Chad dictator wanted by Belgium for alleged war crimes, police said. A police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to speak to the press, confirmed Habre's arrest, which was first reported by Reed Brody of New York-based Human Rights watch and private Senegalese radio station Walf-Fadjri.

Habre, 63, has lived in exile in Senegal since rebel forces ousted him 15 years ago. He lived with his family along an isolated road in Dakar's upscale Almadies neighborhood.

A lawyer representing victims of alleged torture, Boucounta Diallo, said Habre should not be released on bail and called for his extradition to Belgium, which has issued an international warrant for him.

"Fear is finally changing sides," Diallo told Walf-Fadjri. "From now on, dictators will watch themselves." Diallo told the Associated Press that he watched as Habre was taken in court. He was not handcuffed he said.

Senegalese prosecutors and Habre's lawyer could not be immediately reached for comment.

Habre is accused of torture, murder and a host of other crimes during his eight-year reign. A commission set up in Chad in 1992 accused Habre's regime of 40,000 political killings and 200,000 cases of torture.

He is being pursued under Belgium's "universal jurisdiction" laws, which allow for prosecutions for crimes against humanity wherever they were committed. Belgium last month reportedly sent Senegal a request for Habre's extradition. Belgium and Senegal have no extradition treaty.

Senegal's high court dismissed Senegalese charges against Habre in 2001, ruling it had no jurisdiction to try him.

Chad is among the world's poorest countries despite newly tapped oil riches. From its 1960 independence from France until the early 1990s the country was wracked by civil war. Another insurrection brewed in 1998 after multiparty elections and movement toward democracy in the central African nation of 10 million, reports the AP. I.L.

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