Burundi Coup Plotters Jailed for Life
Four Burundi ex-generals have been sentenced to life imprisonment for their roles in a failed coup attempt against President Nkurunzziza’s regime last May.Nine others have been jailed for 30 years by the country’s Supreme Court, despite the prosecution requesting life imprisonment for all 28 defendants facing charges against them.
The leader of May’s coup attempt, ex-general Godefroid Nyombare, has been on the run since his movement was brought to an abrupt end by government forces. The former general led the attack while President Nkurunziza was in Tanzania, attending emergency discussions over the political crisis in his country. However, the plot was quickly foiled by security forces and arrests were made just two days later. Nyombare wasn’t one of them, though, and it’s believed he’s still alive and on the run.
The four ex-generals sentenced to life imprisonment include former Defense Minister Cyrille Ndayirukiye and three other ex-generals from the army and police force. Described as organisers of the coup attempt, the group has been found guilty on three counts of plotting the coup, killing soldiers, police officers and civilians; and destroying property.
Each of the defendants pleaded guilty to the charges held against them and were expected to face life in jail.
Nine other former military and police officers have also been sentenced to 30 years in prison for their roles in the coup. The nine were charged on grounds of cooperating with plot organisers and each has also been banned from holding public office for 10 years prior to their release.
Another eight soldiers, including bodyguards and drivers of the generals involved, have been jailed for five years, while seven were acquitted of all charges. The verdicts and sentences fall short of requests from the prosecution that called for all 28 defendants to receive life in prison.
The generals charged with orchestrating the attempted coup cited the government’s violent oppression of protests against Nkurunziza’s third term as the reason for their actions.