Dakar: Senegalese authorities on Friday ordered former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre to appear before a special tribunal to stand trial for torture, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Once dubbed "Africa`s Pinochet", Habre has been in custody in the Senegalese capital Dakar since his arrest in June 2013 at the home he shared with his wife and children.
Rights groups say 40,000 people were killed during the 72-year-old`s eight years in power in Chad under a regime marked by fierce repression of his opponents and the targeting of ethnic groups.
The Extraordinary African Chamber, set up by Senegal and the African Union to deal with Habre`s case, announced it had made an order of "partial dismissal of proceedings, of impeachment and referral".
"This order refers the accused, Hisseine Habre, to the Extraordinary African Assize Chamber in order to be tried for crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of torture," it said in a statement.
The trial, the result of a 19-month investigation by a four-judge panel, is expected to get under way in Senegal in May or June.
Delayed for years by Senegal where he has lived since being ousted in 1990, Habre`s trial will set a historic precedent as until now African leaders accused of atrocities have only been tried in international courts.
Senegal and the African Union signed an agreement in December 2012 to set up the court to try Habre for the offences.
The AU had mandated Senegal to try Habre in July 2006, but the country stalled the process for years under former president Abdoulaye Wade, who was defeated in 2012 elections.