A former president of Chad accused of overseeing the deaths of thousands during his time in power will soon stand trial in Senegal on charges that include crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture, according to the special tribunal set up to handle his case.
The tribunal created to try the former president, Hissène Habré, made the announcement on Friday in response to the findings of a 19-month investigation.
Mr. Habré ruled from 1982 to 1990, then fled to Senegal after being forced from power by Chad’s current president, Idriss Déby. Mr. Habré lived freely in Senegal until he was detained in June 2013.
Mr. Habré’s trial would be the first in Africa to rely on “universal jurisdiction,” under which any country’s national courts can prosecute the most serious crimes committed elsewhere by a foreigner and against foreign victims, the monitoring group Human Rights Watch said.
The trial is expected to begin in May or June.
In 1992, a Chadian truth commission formed by Mr. Déby reported that Mr. Habré’s government was responsible for an estimated 40,000 deaths.
“After so many years, Habré’s victims are now on the verge of seeing justice done for what they have endured,” said Jacqueline Moudeina, lead lawyer for some of the surviving victims. “Getting Hissène Habré before a court is an enormous victory for justice.”
The commission said Mr. Habré’s political police force “distinguished itself by its cruelty and its contempt for human life.” Mr. Habré’s defense team has derided the case as political, emphasizing that Mr. Déby’s government has been a major donor to the prosecution.