The appeal of Chads former president Hissene Habre against his conviction for war crimes and crimes against humanity will open on January 9, the special tribunal who tried him said Tuesday.

The Extraordinary African Chambers, a body created by Senegal and the African Union, sentenced Habre to life in jail in May, an unprecedented conviction hailed as a blow to the impunity long enjoyed by repressive rulers.

Marcel Mendy, the court's spokesman, said the process "will begin on January 9 at 9 am (0900GMT)."

The verdict against Habre brought closure for relatives of up to 40,000 people killed and many more kidnapped, raped or tortured during his 1982-1990 term as president of Chad.

It set a global precedent as the first time a country had prosecuted the former leader of another nation for rights abuses.

In July, Habre was further ordered to pay up to 30,000 euros ($33,000) to each victim who suffered rape, arbitrary detention and imprisonment during his rule, as well as to their relatives.

Known as a skilled desert fighter and often dressed in combat fatigues to fit the role, Habre fled to Senegal after his 1990 ouster by Chad's current President Idriss Deby.

For more than 20 years, the former dictator lived freely in an upmarket Dakar suburb with his wife and children.