Connect with us

Central Africa News

Convicted coup plotters in Equatorial Guinea handed jail terms

The heaviest sentences were handed down to three Equatorial Guinean nationals accused of masterminding the coup plot

News Central

Published

on

Convicts of coup bid in Equatorial Guinea handed jail terms

A court in Equatorial Guinea handed down sentences of up to 96 years to more than 130 people convicted of involvement in what the authorities say was an attempted coup.

The jail terms, ranging from three to 96 years, were read out on state television by Pascual Bacale Nfono, chief judge at the court in Bata, the country’s economic capital.

The convictions, announced late Friday, relate to what the government says was an attempted coup in December 2017.

Those convicted included foreign nationals from Chad, Central African Republic, Cameroon and France, many of whom were tried in their absence.

The heaviest sentences, of 96 years, were handed down to three Equatorial Guinean nationals accused of being the masterminds of the coup plot.

They are: opposition figure Bienvenido Ndong Ondo (alias Ricky); and two former magistrates, Martin Obiang Ondo and Ruben Clemente Nguema Engonga.

All three exiled in Spain, they lead the Movement for the Liberation of Equatorial Guinea Third Republic (MLGE III R).

Defence lawyer Ponciano Mbomio Nvo said the sentences had been decided well in advance of the start of the proceedings. “This trial was just staged,” he told reporters.

Other exiled opposition figures living in Europe were also convicted in absentia. Salomon Abeso Ndong, who now lives in Britain, received a 59-year jail term.

The same term was handed down to opposition figure Severo Moto Nsa, who is now based in Spain.

He has already received a jail sentence of more than 100 years in a previous case, when he was convicted of having been behind a 2004 coup bid.

Mercenary plot

The authorities announced in January 2018 that they had foiled a coup plot.

They said a group of foreign mercenaries had planned to attack President Teodoro Obiang Nguema on December 24 at his palace at Koete Mongomo, around 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the borders with Gabon, Guinea and Cameroon.

Three days later, on December 27, Cameroonian police arrested around 30 armed men at their border with Equatorial Guinea.

At the same time, the authorities in Equatorial Guinea made a wave of arrests. They also issued international arrest warrants for suspects abroad whom they accused of being behind the coup bid.

More than half of those convicted are still abroad and were sentenced in their absence — including five French nationals.

One of the French defendants convicted was Dominique Calace de Ferluc, who is close to the opposition movement. He received a 59-year jail sentence.

The others convicted included people from Equatorial Guinea, Chad, Central African Republic and Cameroon.

The court acquitted 21 of the defendants and ordered their immediate release.

Former insiders among convicted

Among those in court for the trial was the country’s former ambassador to Chad, Enrique Nsue Anguesomo, who received a 50-year jail term.

The president’s former security chief, Julian Ondo Nkumu, received a 21-year sentence.

The trial began in March and two magistrates and two military prosecutors – named by presidential decree – joined the civilian judges in court.

During the trial, defence lawyers’ called for their clients’ release on the grounds of a lack of evidence and complained of procedural “irregularities” in the case.

Some of the defendants said in court that they had been tortured during their questioning.

Nguema, 76, is now Africa’s longest-serving leader having himself seized power in a 1979 putsch. 

Critics accuse him of brutal repression, election fraud and corruption.

Copyright News Central

All rights reserved. This post and other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central.

New stories delivered to your phone

Click here to have news stories delivered to your phone or mail. You can also share your stories with us. Join our mailing list here.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Central Africa News

Ex-health minister arrested for embezzling Ebola funds in DR Congo

Ilunga, who resigned as health minister in July, was detained while hiding in an apartment in Kinshasa

Published

on

DR Congo's health minister resigns after removal from key Ebola response role
Former DR Congo health minister Oly Ilunga. (AFP)

Former DR Congo health minister Oly Ilunga has been arrested over allegations he embezzled public funds to tackle the Ebola epidemic, police said on Saturday.

Ilunga, who resigned as health minister in July after being removed as head of the country’s Ebola response team, was detained while hiding in an apartment in the capital Kinshasa ahead of a bid to flee the country, officers said.

He is in custody due to “misdemeanors of the mismanagement of funds allocated to the Ebola response,” police spokesman Colonel Pierrot-Rombaut Mwanamputu told AFP.

Ilunga will be referred to prosecutors on Monday, he added.

It comes after Ilunga was questioned in August as part of an inquiry into the management of funds to fight the outbreak, which has claimed more than 2,000 lives since August 2018.

Ilunga, 59, had already been banned from leaving the country.

He stepped down after criticising plans by the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) to introduce a new, unlicensed vaccine to fight the epidemic.

His lawyer told AFP in September that some payments had been made to local chiefs after the killing of a WHO doctor in April.

More than 200,000 people have been vaccinated during DR Congo’s tenth and most serious Ebola epidemic.

It is the second-worst Ebola outbreak in history after more than 11,000 people were killed in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia between 2014 and 2016.

Copyright News Central

All rights reserved. This post and other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central.

New stories delivered to your phone

Click here to have news stories delivered to your phone or mail. You can also share your stories with us. Join our mailing list here.

Continue Reading

Central Africa News

Dozens feared dead in DR Congo train derailment

Witnesses at the scene and local media feared a hundred people could have been killed

Published

on

Dozens feared dead in DR Congo train derailment
(File photo)

A freight train derailed in southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo early Thursday, killing stowaway passengers who were riding on it, in the latest rail tragedy to strike the nation, officials said.

But in a chaotic situation, estimates of the death toll varied widely, from 10 to a hundred.

“Another disaster! Derailing at 3 am (01:00 GMT) in Tanganyika (province) near Mayibaridi. Provisional toll: 50 dead and several injured,” the minister for humanitarian action, Steve Mbikayi, said in a tweet.

In contrast, the provincial governor, Zoe Kabila, who is the brother of former President Joseph Kabila, issued a tweet that said, “Correction… provisional toll 10 dead, 30 injured and three railcars overturned.”

But witnesses at the scene and local media feared a hundred people could have been killed.

READ: 24 dead in DR Congo train derailment

Victor Umba, the union head of the national rail company SNCC, said the freight train was travelling from the town of Nyunzu to the town of Niemba when two railcars fell on their sides, crushing many people underneath.

“Those who died in this derailment were stowaways. It is impossible for the SNCC to provide any kind of toll,” Umba told reporters.

He added that the SNCC’s chief was in the provincial capital of Kalemie trying to find a way to raise the carriages.

“It seems that many stowaways are trapped under the derailed carriages”.

Railways in the DRC have a poor record for safety, hampered by derelict tracks and decrepit locomotives, many of them dating from the 1960s.

In March, at least 24 people were killed and 31 were injured Sunday when a freight train carrying illegal passengers crashed in the central region of Kasai.

In November last year, 10 stowaways were killed and 24 injured near the eastern town of Samba when the brakes failed on a freight train.

In November 2017, 35 people were killed when a freight train carrying 13 oil tankers plunged into a ravine in southern Lualaba province.

Like many state companies in DR Congo, the SNCC is on the brink of bankruptcy.

READ: Train collision kills 13, injures others in Congo

After Kabila stepped down in January, its employees urged his successor, Felix Tshisekedi, to pay months of back wages. Its former head Sylvestre Ilunga is the country’s current prime minister.

Copyright News Central

All rights reserved. This post and other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central.

New stories delivered to your phone

Click here to have news stories delivered to your phone or mail. You can also share your stories with us. Join our mailing list here.

Continue Reading

Central Africa News

2 journalists arrested in Equatorial Guinea for interviewing a suspended judge

Melanio Nkogo and Ruben Dario Bacale were picked up a week ago after broadcasting an interview with a judge, Nazario Oyono

Published

on

2 journalists arrested in Equatorial Guinea for interviewing a suspended judge

Two journalists working for a private TV station in Equatorial Guinea are being held by police after they interviewed a suspended judge, sources told reporters on Wednesday.

The country has one of the world’s worst records for media rights, ranking 165th out of 180 on the 2019 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Raul Obiang, head of news for Asonga TV, said journalists Melanio Nkogo and Ruben Dario Bacale were picked up a week ago after broadcasting an interview with a judge, Nazario Oyono.

Oyono was suspended on August 21 by the President of the Supreme Court for “irregularities.”

The pair are being held in the central police station in the town of Bata, Raul Obiang said.

He quoted the deputy head of security there as saying the two were being held because “they did work they shouldn’t have done.”

RSF called on the authorities to free the pair, adding that their arrest “shows the extreme vulnerability of journalists” working in Equatorial Guinea.

It recalled the case of noted cartoonist Ramon Nse Esono Ebale, who was jailed for five months before being released in March 2018.

Asonga is the only privately-owned TV and radio station in Equatorial Guinea, which has been run by iron-fisted President Teodoro Obiang Nguema for 40 years.

The station’s owner is his son, Teodorin Nguema Obiang, who many say is being groomed for succession.

Copyright News Central

All rights reserved. This post and other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central.

New stories delivered to your phone

Click here to have news stories delivered to your phone or mail. You can also share your stories with us. Join our mailing list here.

Continue Reading

Trending