At least 40,000 people were persecuted and killed for political reasons during his regime.
On Tuesday, Senegal's Justice Minister Malick Sall confirmed that Hissene Habre, the former president of Chad, died at 79 in a Dakar prison, where he was serving a life sentence for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and acts of torture committed between 1982 and 1990.
After returning from France where he studied law, Hissene Habre gained political notoriety in his home country in 1971 when he joined the Chadian National Liberation Front (FROLINAT). Internationally, he became famous when he forced France to negotiate the release of ethnologist Francoise Claustre, who had been kidnapped for three years.
Subsequently, Habre became Prime Minister during the administration of President Felix Malloum (1975-1979) and Defense Minister in the government of Goukouni Weddeye (1979-1982).
Once he became a fierce opponent of Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi, Habre began an armed struggle that brought him to power in 1982 with the support of the United States and France. Subsequently, after fleeing an attack organized by rebel General Idriss Deby, Habre stepped down from the presidency in 1990. Between 1982 and 1990, however, the dictator exercised power in a cruel manner.
#AfriDocs continues to celebrate woman this woman's month #TalkingAboutRose Juliette Binoche recounts the life and death of Rose Lokissim, a prisoner of Hissène Habré, dictator in Chad from 1982 to 1990.— AfriDocs (@afri_docs) August 16, 2021
"This period is marked by terrible repression: opponents, real or alleged, were arrested by the political police, tortured, often executed. A commission of inquiry estimated the number of people who died or were executed in custody at over 40,000, of whom 4,000 were identified by name," France 24 recalled.
After being overthrown, Habre lived in Dakar for over twenty years without engaging in any political activity. In 2013, however, he was arrested because of accusations leveled by a special tribunal set up by the African Union and Senegal.
"His trial, the first in the world in which a former head of state was brought before a court in another country for alleged human rights violations, began on July 20, 2015, France 24 noted, adding that Habre was sentenced in May 2016 to life imprisonment.