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Burundi anti-graft activist freed

2012-02-21 22:05

Bujumbura - A Burundian anti-graft activist detained two weeks ago for criticising the justice minister over alleged corruption was freed on Tuesday.

"I am happy to be freed from prison where I spent two weeks for no reason, because all that I said is true and has been spoken about by several senior officials in the country," said Faustin Ndikumana.

Ndikumana had written in a complaint letter that candidates had been obliged to pay $1 450 for jobs at the judiciary and that Justice Minister Pascal Barandaiye was "partly responsible for this state of affairs".

Ndikumana, who heads a local anti-corruption organisation, was released after paying €565 bail, but was barred from leaving the Bujumbura region, travelling to the airport and border regions and ordered to report to court every Thursday.

On Friday, a court had ordered that he remain in prison.

"This is another odd thing about Burundi judiciary. The court ruled on Friday that I remain in detention, and here I am freed four days later," Ndikumana said.

According to diplomatic sources, Ndikumana was freed following external pressure, notably from the European Union - Burundi's main donor.

Burundi is the most corrupt country in east Africa, according to Transparency International, and its judiciary is often condemned as the country's most corrupt institution.

An anti-corruption watchdog took Burundi's government before an East African court in December over allegations it embezzled millions of dollars.