A police colonel in the West African nation of Chad has been arrested on accusations that he was responsible for the death by torture of a man he had accused of stealing from him. A video showing the man being tortured was leaked and published on Facebook, where it was viewed more than 13,000 times.

The video first appeared online on December 26 and was posted along with a series of photographs. The images show a shirtless man, affixed to a wall by his arms. A young man armed with a baton kicks the shirtless man in the face. The people around them laugh.

This man, whose name was Oumar Hissein, died on December 21 from injuries sustained during a six-day period when he was detained and tortured at the home of a police colonel in the city of N’Djamena. Colonel Senoussi Ahmat Ochi was arrested on December 27. In a statement published on December 28, Chad’s justice ministry said that it had arrested “the person responsible for the murder, by torture, of a suspected thief”.

The image on the left is a screengrab of the video posted on Facebook on December 26. The photo on the right shows Omar Hissein. This photo circulated widely online.

"The colonel wouldn’t have been arrested if not for the pressure drummed up on social media”

Tahirou Hissein, Omar’s cousin, lives in France. Tahirou wanted the footage of his cousin being tortured to go public so that his murderer would not go unpunished.

I was sent a copy of the video showing my cousin Oumar being tortured. I didn’t want to post the video on my own page because the footage was horrifying. Instead, I sent the video to my friend, activist Abdelkrim Yacoub Koundougoumi [Editor’s note: Koundougoumi heads the Central African division of the organisation Internet Without Borders], who also lives in France. We wanted to jolt the public into action.

The colonel wouldn’t have been arrested if not for the pressure drummed up on social media. He will now go to jail. "

Post translated from French: “Handcuffed, the accused perpetrator of this horrific crime against Oumar Hissein is now in the hands of the police. The prosecutor's statement is eagerly awaited.”

"The system is terrified of publicity”

Mahamat Nour Ahmat Ibedou is the secretary general of a Chadian human rights group known as the CTDDH, which stands for the Chadian Convention for the Protection of Human Rights (or, in French, la Convention tchadienne de défense des droits de l'Homme).

Social media played a large role. It can generate a lot of pressure. The system is terrified of publicity.

However, we are going to keep a close eye on proceedings because, often, the authorities pretend to arrest the perpetrators of these sorts of crimes and then set them free.

 

In 2016, a video of a gang rape of a high school student was posted online and sparked a wave of anger across the country. The perpetrators were sentenced to ten years in prison.

 

Article written by Pierre Hamdi (@PierreHamdi).