Niger court jails ‘coup plotters’ for up to 15 years
President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger
Niamey, Jan. 27, 2018 (AltAfrika)-A military court in Niger on Friday handed down jail terms of between five and 15 years to nine soldiers and a civilian accused of seeking to overthrow President Mahamadou Issoufou in 2015.
The court found them guilty of “fomenting, between November and December 2015, a plot aimed at damaging the authority or the security of the state,” an AFP reporter saw.
The highest sentences were meted out to three officers, including General Souleymane Salou, the former chief of staff, who played a key role in a previous coup in 2010 against Issoufou’s predecessor, Mamadou Tandja.
A similar term was handed out to Lieutenant Ousmane Awal Hambaly, who had been accused, but later released, in 2012 of allegedly plotting against Issoufou.
Prosecutors had demanded terms of between 15 and 20 years. Three soldiers were acquitted.
According to the charge sheet, the plot entailed “arresting President Issoufou and the head of the presidential guard” on December 18, 2015 on his return from the central town of Maradi, where he attended celebrations for the nation’s founding.
They would be “executed if they resisted arrest,” according to the charges.
The defendants have five days in which to appeal.
On December 17, 2015, Issoufou – who at the time was campaigning for a second term in office – announced that a coup had been thwarted. Two dozen people – soldiers, customs officials and civilians – were arrested.
The allegation was contested by the opposition which demanded proof.
In March 2017 a group of civilians, including political dissidents, were released in connection with the purported coup after being given a “partial dismissal” by a judge, their lawyer said.