Hissene Habre
Former Chad president Hissene Habre raises his fist as he leaves a court in Dakar in 2005 Mamadou Gomis/ Reuters

Former Chadian president Hissène Habré is expected to launch an appeal against his life sentence for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during his rule from 1982 to 1990.

At the trial in Senegal's capital, Dakar which ended in May 2016, Habré denied accusations that he ordered the killing of 40,000 people, with thousands more raped or tortured, while he served as ruler of the former French colony in central Africa. He was later ordered to pay up to €30,000 ($33,000) in compensation to each victim who suffered rape, arbitrary detention and imprisonment during his rule. The compensation was also to go to their relatives.

The verdict marked the end of a 16-year battle for justice by victims and human rights groups after Habré, who has been dubbed 'Africa's Pinochet' for his crimes, was toppled in a 1990 coup.

Habré's court-appointed lawyers have lodged an appeal against the former oppressive leader's life sentence, on the 74-year-old's behalf.

"We were motivated to appeal by violations of the law and (the rights) of the defence and procedural errors," lawyer Mbaye Sene was quoted as saying to AFP news agency. The lawyer gave no further indication of the defence's strategy.

It is uncertain whether Habré will appear in person at the Extraordinary African Chambers, a special court created by Senegal and the African Union, whose authority he does not recognise.

Another lawyer, Ibrahima Diawara, said his client had no intention to appear, but could be compelled to do so by the court.

"Habré believes that this does not concern him at all. He will not appear. We will see whether the court will use force to force him to come," Diawara said.

The hearing is expected to last several days. A definitive and final decision is expected by 30 April. If the court upholds his life conviction, Habré will serve his sentence in Senegal, or in another African Union member state.

In March 2015, in a groundbreaking decision, a Chadian court convicted 20 officials and members of the DDS secret political police force of carrying out acts of torture under Habré's presidency.