Image: Hissene Habre
Dominique Faget  /  AFP - Getty Images file
Chadian President Hissene Habre, shown in 1987, was exiled to Senegal four years later. During his eight years in power, thousands of Chadians allegedly were tortured.
updated 8/15/2008 5:53:26 PM ET 2008-08-15T21:53:26

A Chadian court on Friday sentenced a former president and 11 rebels to death for crimes against the state, an official said.

Former president Hissene Habre awaited trial in Senegal for torture and murder. A Chadian commission of inquiry concluded Habre killed tens of thousands of political opponents during his eight years in power until he was ousted by rebels in 1990.

Habre has been in exile in Senegal since he was overthrown. He lives in a villa in an upscale Dakar neighborhood with his family.

Senegal is unlikely to extradite Habre to Chad, as it already has made preparations to try him under an African Union mandate after coming under pressure to prosecute the former dictator.

Earlier this year, Senegal's parliament amended the nation's constitution to allow national courts to try crimes against humanity and war crimes, opening the way for the eventual trial of Habre. No date has been set for the trial, and many believe it could still be years away.

Habre also has been indicted by a Belgian court for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity under a law that allows the European country to prosecute such crimes wherever they are committed. But the African Union wants him to be tried in Senegal.

Among the other men sentenced to death Friday are rebel leaders Mahamat Nouri and Timane Erdimi, the cousin of the current President of Chad, Idriss Deby.

The rebels remain free in the east of the oil producing country after mounting two attacks on the Chadian capital. Refugees and militia freely cross the border between Chad and the troubled Sudanese region of Darfur. Both countries accuse each other of supporting rebel groups.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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