Mahamat Djibrine was a member of the Directorate of Documentation and Service (DDS) political police, established as a secret police force during the rule of Hissene Habre in Chad. The DDS served as the prime instrument of repression during the regime.
It is alleged that during Habre’s rule from 1982 to 1990, Djibrine, as a member of the DDS, orchestrated acts of torture, gross violence and politically motivated killings against the population of Chad, especially against Habre’s political opponents. Victims further alleged that the DDS had carried out acts of barbarianism and illegal detention, with hundreds claiming at the hands of Djibrine himself, securing his reputation as the most notorious torturer.
In the National Truth Commission’s findings victims alleged that Djibrine systematically tortured them during interrogation as they were imprisoned. Acts ranged from electric shocks, near asphyxia, ’supplice des baguettes’ where victims’ heads were squeezed between sticks, to the infamous ‘arbatachar’ where a prisoner’s four limbs were tied together behind his back leading to loss of circulation and paralysis. Additionally Djibrine served as a member of a committee of the DDS charged with arresting and oppressing members of the Hadjerai and Zaghawa ethnic groups.
Until his arrest, Djibrine had enjoyed high positions in the police force such as Chief of Staff of the Director-General of the Chadian National Police. In 2005, he even acted as representative of Chad in the peacekeeping force sent to Cote d’Ivoire by the United Nations (UNOCI) where he investigated human rights abuses. He was recalled and thereafter withdrawn from this operation by the Chadian government upon heightened allegations against him of systematic torture and abuse.
Senegal was mandated by the African Union to try former Chadian President Hissene Habre and his accomplices for acts committed during his regime in the Extraordinary African Chambers. Special tribunal judges were also authorised to carry out investigations in Chad as a result of a special agreement entered into by Senegal and Chad on 3 May 2013. It is on this basis that Djibrine was arrested for these acts on 14 May 2013 after DDS victims filed a suit. Djibrine was to be transferred to Senegal in June 2014 for aiding and abetting Habre in acts of torture, crimes against humanity and war crimes.