Niger court frees ousted leader Tandja
Niamey - A Niger appeals court on Tuesday freed the country's ex-president, Mamadou Tandja, jailed after being ousted in a coup in February 2010, his lawyers said.
"All proceedings against Mamadou Tandja have been cancelled. He has been wholly exempted from the accusations against him," one of his lawyers Souley Oumarou told AFP, adding his client would be released later in the day.
A second lawyer, Abdourahmane Lirwana, said the appeals court in Niamey had ruled the examining magistrate was not capable of hearing cases involving a former president.
On May 03, the country's court of appeals ruled that Tandja should be released, however the prosecution challenged the ruling.
Tandja was accused of misappropriating some $9m and ignoring an order from the constitutional court to cancel an August 2009 referendum that he hoped would legally extend his presidency.
Although 92.5% of referendum voters officially supported Tandja's goal of staying in power beyond 2009 when his term was set to expire, the opposition boycotted the process and the result prompted the military to remove Tandja by force.
Shortly after the coup, Tandja was held in a presidential villa.
The State Court of Niger lifted the former president's immunity in December 2010, clearing the way for a prosecution.
He was charged and transferred in January to the Kollo prison just outside Niamey.
A March report published by the junta that ousted Tandja alleged that some €129m were embezzled during his decade-long rule.
Many of those close to the deposed leader, including his son and a former minister, were also held on suspicion of corruption but are presumed to have since been released.
On April 07, the junta handed power to a civilian, Mahamadou Issoufou, who defeated Seini Oumarou, a former Tandja prime minister, with 58% support in the March 12 vote.