SIERRA LEONE – Ex-Sierra Leone President, Ernest Bai Koroma, has been charged with four counts of treason in connection with an attempted coup.
Last November, gunmen broke into a military armoury and several prisons in Freetown, freeing almost 2,000 inmates.
BBC reported that Koroma denied any involvement in the attack which killed about 20 people.
According to BBC, West African leaders were reportedly trying to broker a deal for Koroma to go into exile in Nigeria if the charges were dropped.
“The BBC has seen a letter saying Mr Koroma had agreed to the deal, brokered by the regional group, Ecowas,” BBC reported.
However, Sierra Leone Foreign Minister, Timothy Kabba, told the BBC the government did not support the proposal, which he described as a “unilateral proposition” by the president of the Ecowas Commission.
Some of Koroma’s supporters cried in court as the charges were read out.
The former president’s lawyer, Joseph Kamara, told the BBC he was “shocked and in utter disbelief”, saying the charges set a “dangerous precedent”.
“A dark cloud has shadowed the skies of our country, meaning that we are dragging a former head of state – democratically elected – on trumped-up charges under a political vendetta,” he said.
Koroma had been under house arrest since being questioned over the coup.
He was president for 11 years until 2018, when current President Julius Maada Bio was elected.
On Tuesday, 12 other people were charged over the attempted coup, including one of Koroma’s former bodyguards.
The former president’s daughter, Dankay Koroma, had previously been named on a list of wanted suspects by police.
She had not commented.
The attempted coup came five months after a disputed election which saw President Bio narrowly re-elected for a second term.
The results were rejected by Koroma’s All People’s Congress.
International observers also criticised the elections, highlighting a lack of transparency in the count.
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