Following the demise of the ruler, Chad imprisons over 400 dissidents for life.

Mar 22, 2023 - 16:42
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Following the demise of the ruler, Chad imprisons over 400 dissidents for life.

A public prosecutor in Chad said on Tuesday that more than 400 separatists were sentenced to life in prison following the demise of former ruler Idriss Deby Itno in 2021.

They were condemned after a mass trial for "acts of terrorism, mercenarism, recruitment of child soldiers, and assaulting the head of state," according to Mahamat El-Hadj Abba Nana, prosecutor for the city N'Djamena.

He did not provide a specific number of those imprisoned, only stating that "more than 400 were sentenced" to life in prison, while 24 other suspects were acquitted.

The hearing began behind closed doors last month at Klessoum prison, 20 kilometers (12 miles) southeast of the city.

Marshal Deby, Chad's iron-fisted dictator for the preceding three decades, perished from wounds received during the battle on April 20.

Deby died shortly after being proclaimed the victor of a presidential race that would have given him his sixth term.

His demise was revealed just one day after he was proclaimed the winner of a presidential election that granted him a sixth term.

He was promptly replaced by one of his sons, General Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, who led a 15-man military junta.

"A masquerade"

Several defendants were also told to pay more than $32 million in penalties to the state and $1.6 million to the ex-president's family, according to FACT counsel Francis Lokoulde, who indicated that an appeal would be filed.

"It's a masquerade with no law, no convention," FACT head Mahamat Mahdi Ali said.

"It all stems from a desire to criminalize our struggle." "The verdict is meaningless," he said.

Defence attorneys had objected to the group trial being publicized only a few days before it began on February 13.

Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno pledged to conduct free elections within 18 months, but that date was pushed back by two years.

The World Organization Against abuse (OMCT), headquartered in Geneva, charged Chadian officials of summary killings and abuse.

Following a trial in the infamous Koro Toro jail, 600 kilometers from N'Djamena, a total of 262 individuals were sentenced to between two and three years in prison.

International human rights organizations condemned the remote site and procedures.

Human Rights Watch condemned not only the mass trial, but also the killings, kidnappings, and abuse that preceded it.

Even though the junta removed the suspension of several opposition groups in January, the major leaders of Chad's opposition are now in concealment or exile.

Despite condemnation for his authoritarian control, the elder Deby was an important ally in the West's anti-jihadist effort in the volatile Sahel, owing to Chad's military's relative power.

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