Chad victims' compensation to come from Habre assets

Victims of the brutal regime of Chad's former dictator Hissene Habre will receive compensation from wealth he accumulated by allegedly stealing government funds, the country's justice minister said on Wednesday.

Jean-Bernard Padare told AFP: "The victims will be compensated firstly from Habre's assets. If those assets aren't enough ... we will have to wait and see if the victims' lawyers argue that damages could be claimed against the state in a civil court."

The minister has accused the former president of having stolen "at least 10 billion CFA francs (15 million euros)" before the currency was devalued in 1994.

Habre laundered the money in the Senegalese capital of Dakar after he was ousted by current president Idriss Deby in 1990, Padare claimed, and became "a property baron", with a huge portfolio in the city.

Habre, 70, once dubbed "Africa's Pinochet", faces accusations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture in Chad, where rights groups say that some 40,000 people were killed during his eight-year rule.

Arrested in early July, the former dictator was placed in pre-trial detention in Dakar where he will also stand trial.

Chad's Commission of Inquiry into Habre's alleged crimes, set up after he fled, estimates that up to 40,000 died between 1982 and 1990, his years in power, of whom just 4,000 have ever been identified.