July 20, 2024

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President toppled in Niger coup loses immunity

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A democratically elected president who was kicked out of power by the military a year ago should now lose his immunity from prosecution, Niger’s top court has ruled.
That decision by the newly created body clears the way for Mohamed Bazoum, 64, to be tried by a military court.
He and his wife Hadiza have been detained in the president palace without a telephone since the coup last July.
Since then, Niger’s new military leaders have brought in drastic policy changes – including severing defence and diplomatic ties with former colonial power France and pivoting towards Russia.
The ruling junta in the capital, Niamey, has been legally empowered to prosecute him on charges of treason, undermining national security and financing terrorism.
Mr Bazoum’s lawyers have called the process a “travesty” and withdrew from a hearing last week.
They say they have not been able to meet their client face to face.
“I don’t even know if President Bazoum is aware of the lifting of his immunity,” the former president’s communications adviser Hamid N’Gade told the AFP news agency.
“We only get news about him from his doctor who sees him twice a week. No-one knows how he is coping psychologically,” he added.

By Natasha Booty & Chris Ewokor

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