News24

I'm not guilty, says Ravalomanana

2012-08-07 13:08

Johannesburg - Madagascar's ousted leader Marc Ravalomanana on Tuesday denounced his "kangaroo court" conviction over the killing of protesters 3 years ago, which has led to a probe by South African prosecutors.

Ravalomanana has lived in South Africa since his island nation's current leader Andry Rajoelina drove him from power in March 2009, with the army's support.

He was convicted in absentia for the killing of demonstrators by his presidential guard during protests that led to his overthrow. Thirty-six people were killed and hundreds wounded.

South African prosecutors said on Sunday they were investigating if the case amounted to crimes against humanity.

"After I was forced out of my country, literally at gunpoint, the illegal coup regime staged a kangaroo court, show trial against me," Ravalomanana said in a statement.

"A purposeful attempt is being made to mislead South Africans into thinking that I am guilty of a crime and this is simply untrue," he said.

"The regime which staged a violent and unlawful coup in Madagascar is doing this as part of its desperate fight to prevent my unconditional return to contest internationally supervised, free and fair elections."

The statement came on the eve of fresh talks between the rivals in the Seychelles, where they are expected to try to clear obstacles to elections in Madagascar - notably the terms of Ravalomanana's eventual return.

Although the two last year signed a "roadmap" towards elections, the deal has yet to be fully implemented.

The first round of face-to-face talks between the leaders two weeks ago ended without a resolution, but since then Madagascar announced the first round of long-awaited elections will take place on 8 May next year.