Ex-Congo army chief gets 20 years in jail

The Sunday Guardian - - World - REUTERS

BRAZ­ZAV­ILLE: A court in Congo Repub­lic sen­tenced exarmy chief and op­po­si­tion pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko to 20 years in prison on Fri­day on charges of vi­o­lat­ing state se­cu­rity and il­le­gal pos­ses­sion of weapons.

Mokoko, a power bro­ker in the for­mer French colony’s 1990s civil war, fin­ished third to long-serv­ing Pres­i­dent De­nis Sas­sou Nguesso in a March 2016 elec­tion that was crit­i­cised by op­po­si­tion par­ties and for­eign pow­ers for ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties. He was ar­rested in June 2016.

Pros­e­cu­tors ac­cused of Mokoko and sev­eral co-de­fen­dants of amass­ing arms as far back as 2005 in the aim of over­throw­ing Sas­sou Nguesso’s gov­ern­ment. The co-ac­cused re­ceived the same prison sen­tence. They now have three days to ap­peal the ver­dict. Mokoko de­clined to speak in his own de­fence dur­ing the trial, which opened on Mon­day, claim­ing that hav­ing been awarded the hon­our of Com­man­der of the Con­golese Or­der of Merit he ben­e­fited from im­mu­nity from pros­e­cu­tion. Malaysia’s newly elected Prime Min­is­ter Ma­hathir Mo­hamad said on Sat­ur­day he had stopped his pre­de­ces­sor Na­jib Razak from leav­ing the coun­try, and sacked the at­tor­ney gen­eral who had cleared him of in­volve­ment in a multi-bil­lion-dol­lar scan­dal.

“It is true that I prevented Na­jib from leav­ing the coun­try ....as far as I know, he and his wife (were prevented from leav­ing). I’m not aware of other peo­ple,” Ma­hathir told re­porters at a news con­fer­ence.

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