Habré, Hissène (hēsĕnˈ häbrāˈ) [key], 1942–, Chadian political leader, president of Chad (1982–90). He studied political science in Paris during the late 1960s and, returning to Chad (1970), was briefly a minor government official. He soon joined the rebel Forces Armée du Nord, headed by Goukouni Oueddei, and later become its leader. Habré served as prime minister (1978–79) under President Félix Malloum and as defense minister (1979–80) under President Oueddei, and in 1982 led a coup that overthrew Oueddei. During his years as president, Habré, with French and U.S. military aid, drove Libyan forces from Chad. He also presided over a reign of terror that allegedly resulted in some 40,000 political murders and 200,000 cases of torture.
Overthrown in 1990 by Idriss Déby, Habré fled to Senegal. In 2000 he was charged with crimes against humanity, but Senegalese courts ruled that he could not be tried there. In 2006 the African Union ruled that Senegal did have proper jurisdiction, but Senegal has been slow to to prosecute Habré or to transfer him to a country that will prosecute him. In 2012 the International Court of Justice ruled that Senegal must try him without delay or extradite him to face trial in Belgium. Senegal subsequently agreed to an African Union plan for a special Senegalese court with AU-appointed African judges, and in 2013 he was arrested on war crimes and other charges. Meanwhile, in 2008, a Chadian court sentenced him to death in absentia for crimes against the state.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.