The court in Senegal found Habre guilty of crimes against humanity, rape, forced slavery and kidnapping as well as ordering the killings of 40,000 people during his rule between 1982 and 1990. Habre had denied the accusations and refused to recognize the legitimacy of the court.
The former President showed little emotion as he heard the verdict, with his face obscured partly by a turban and sunglasses.
Those who suffered under Habre’s rule and their families celebrated outside the courthouse in Dakar, Senegal, as women dressed in bright traditional prints danced.
The decision makes Habre the first African former head of state to be convicted on the continent, according to Human Rights Watch. It is also the first time that a court of one country has prosecuted the former ruler of another over human rights crimes, the group said.