Chad: More than 400 people sentenced to death for former leaders

More than 400 rebels accused of killing Chad’s former president have been sentenced to life in prison.

The rebels were found guilty of terrorism, use of child soldiers and undermining the integrity and security of Chad, an appeals court ruled in closed-door hearing on Tuesday.

A month-long mass trial has charged 454 members of the rebel groups Front For Change and Concord with the murder of longtime President Idriss Deby Itno, who died under gloomy circumstances in 2021 in just two days. after being elected for a sixth term. Two dozen people on trial were acquitted and it is not clear exactly how many were convicted.

In addition to the life sentence, the leader of the rebel group, Mahamat Mahdi Ali, was fined about $30 million to pay the Chadian government for damages.

Lawyers for the defendants said they would appeal the verdict to the High Court of Chad. “Since this decision has been made public by the appellate court, there is only the right of appeal,” said Lokoulde Francis, the defendant’s lawyer.

Deby came to power in 1990 when his rebel forces overthrew then-President Hissene Habre, who was later found guilty of human rights abuses in an international court in Senegal. Deby ran the country for more than three decades and died of unexplained injuries when he visited the army battling a rebel group seeking control of the oil-rich Central African nation. No details of his death have been made public.

Hours after Deby’s death, the Chadian army appointed his son, Mahamat Idriss Deby, as interim leader of the country for a planned period of 18 months. Last year, however, the government announced it would extend the transition for another two years, leading to protests across the country.

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