Four Chad opposition leaders get suspended sentences

2016-04-14 19:03
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N'Djamena - A Chadian court on Thursday handed down four-month suspended sentences on four civil society leaders arrested for urging anti-government protests ahead of a presidential election last weekend.

The court convicted them for "attempting an unarmed gathering" in the run-up to Sunday's election, in which President Idriss Deby is set to win another five-year mandate following 26 years of tough rule over the central African nation.

But Mahamat Nour Ahmed Ibedou, Younous Mahadjir, Nadjo Kaina Palmer and Celine Narmadji were to be released later on Thursday, a judicial source told AFP. The case of a fifth activist, arrested several days after the four, will come to court on a later date.

Those arrested came from the Union of Trade Unions of Chad (UST) and the civic movements "That's Enough", "Enough is Enough" and Iyina ("We are tired").

The court building was surrounded by large numbers of police and paramilitary gendarmes.

At a hearing on April 7, the state prosecutor urged the court to jail the accused for six months each. One of their lawyers, Frederic Nanadjingue, dismissed this request as "a purely political decision that comes from the executive."

The state initially accused them of "provoking an unauthorised gathering, attempting to undermine public order and opposing the exercise of legitimate authority" after the opposition called for demonstrations against Deby's bid for a fifth mandate.

The outcome of the polls across the partly desert country is not expected for around 10 days.

Deby, whose regime has overseen the exploitation of oil wealth since 2003, faced a divided opposition of 12 challengers.

The government banned demonstrations after protests erupted in February over the gang rape of a teenaged girl blamed on the sons of top figures in Deby's regime.

Four days after the ban, a student was killed and five wounded when police opened fire to break up a protest at Faya Largeau in the north.

Read more on:    idriss deby  |  chad  |  central africa

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