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Burundi prosecution appeals coup sentences

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President of Burundi Pierre Nkurunziza

President of Burundi Pierre Nkurunziza

Prosecution lawyers in Burundi have appealed the verdicts in the trial of leaders of a failed coup, demanding all should face life sentences including seven who were acquitted.

They also released a list of 34 names of opposition chiefs, civil society leaders and journalists — now in exile — they want to face trial for their alleged role in the May 2015 coup bid.

The appeal comes after a court in January jailed 21 men for their role in the coup, sentencing four ex-generals to life, nine others for 30 years, and eight soldiers to five years.

Prosecutors, who said in a statement that they were “not satisfied with the judgement of the trial judge”, said they should all be jailed for life, and that the seven acquitted should face a re-trial.

Burundi has been in crisis since April 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a controversial third term, sparking street protests, the failed coup, regular killings and a nascent rebellion.

Coup leader, ex-general Godefroid Nyombare, is on the run. The former intelligence chief has been named as leader of the Forebu rebels.

The rebels formed the force “to protect the population” and uphold the Arusha Agreement that paved the way to the end of the 1993-2006 civil war — but which they say Nkurunziza violated by running for, and winning, a third term in power.

Since then, clashes between loyalists and the opposition have turned increasingly violent, with hundreds killed and at least 230,000 fleeing the country.

The African Union had proposed sending a 5,000-strong peacekeeping force to end the violence, but on Sunday buckled in the face of vehement opposition from the government.

Instead, the AU is to send envoys for more talks, although previous negotiations have achieved little, if anything.



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