The trial opened officially on 20 July 2015 but was immediately suspended for 45 days after the defense counsels refused to appear before the Court. The Presiding Judge subsequently issued a ruling to assign court-appointed lawyers to the defendant.
From 7 September through 15 December 2015, Justice Gustave Kam and two other Senegalese judges attended 55 hearings to audition 92 witnesses, victims and experts. All of these hearings were summarized in comprehensive reports by Senegalese law graduates with the support of TrustAfrica. For a period of 4 months the defense counsels, victims’ lawyers and the EAC’s Chief Prosecutor and judges thoroughly examined the charges (war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of torture) against Habré.
The alleged victims’ initial testimonies in the first month of hearings shed light on the social and political context of the Habré regime. But the main highlights in September were the forced appearance of the accused and the disturbances orchestrated by his supporters.