Hissène Habré, former President of Chad, was sentenced to life imprisonment during his reign in the 1980s for crimes against humanity, including murder, torture and sex crimes. He was 79.

Mr Habré’s death was announced on Tuesday by the Ministry of Justice in Senegal, the West African country where, according to news agencies, he was convicted. The former president’s wife also confirmed his death to news media outlets in Senegal, several of which reported that he died of an infection with the coronavirus.

Mr Habré was released from prison for 60 days in April because a judge said he was particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus. His wife had long asked the Senegalese authorities to release him on health grounds.

When Mr Habré was convicted in 2016, he was the first former head of state to be convicted of crimes against humanity by another country. His victims celebrated their hard-won victory in the Dakar courtroom after decades of fighting for justice. But five years later, the victims are still waiting for the compensation they have been awarded.

“Habré will go down in history as one of the most ruthless dictators in the world, a man who slaughtered his own people to seize and maintain power, who burned entire villages, sent women as sex slaves for his troops and built secret dungeons, to inflict medieval torture on his enemies, ”said Reed Brody, who has worked with Hissène Habré’s victims for over two decades.

A Chad truth commission found that during his reign from 1982 to 1990, Mr Habré’s government killed more than 40,000 people believed to be enemies of the state, including those who were merely suspected.

Mr Habré took power during a coup with the help of the United States and received arms and aid from France, Israel and the United States to keep Libya, Chad’s northern neighbor, in check.