23/08/2010 02:15:51
Death sentence for four officials in E.Guinea attack
MALABO — Four top military and government officials in oil-producing Equatorial Guinea have been sentenced to death for their role in a 2009 attack on the presidential palace, state television reported Sunday.
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The four men were convicted by a military tribunal of being "criminally responsible and the authors of the offences of an attack on the head of state and representative of the government, terrorism and treason," according to the verdict which was handed down Saturday.

The four were named as Jose Abeso Nsue Nchama, a former captain of the country's land forces, his deputy Manuel Ndong Anseme, former customs chief Jacinto Micha Obiang and Alipio Ndong Asumu, a member of the presidential security team, according to the verdict.

Their trial opened discretely on August 13, state television said.

Two other officers were jailed for 20 years for complicity in the failed coup.

Malabo originally accused the gunmen who took part in the February 17, 2009 sea-borne assault on the palace of being members of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), a Nigerian militant group, which denied any involvement.

Footage of the attack on state television showed bullet marks on the walls of the presidential palace as well as smashed windows and doors, though President Teodoro Obiang Nguema was absent at the time.

Authorities later accused Faustino Ondo Ebang, former leader of the opposition Popular Union party and living in exile in Spain since 2007, of being behind the attack.

State radio, citing the tribunal, said the objective was to overthrow the government, install Nsue Nchama as head of state, then appeal to a certain Angel Esono Nsuga -- who remains at large -- to come forward.

Esono Nsuga was described as the brains behind the failed coup.

The two who were jailed for 20 years had already gone on trial in March alongside with nine other Equatorial Guineans, all members of the Popular Union, plus seven Nigerians.

The nine Equatorial Guineans were released, but the Nigerians were sentenced to 12 years in prison for terrorism despite their pleas of innocence and claims that they were headed to Cameroon when they were caught up in a storm and intercepted by the navy on the day of the attack.

Equatorial Guinea, Africa's third-biggest oil exporter, has a history of coups, the last successful one being when Obiang Nguema toppled and executed his uncle in 1979, establishing an iron-fisted regime.


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