Two French nationals charged over bid to kill Madagascar president

ANTANANARIVO (AFP) – Two French nationals are among those who have been charged in connection with a plot to assassinate Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina, their lawyers said on Thursday (Aug 5).

After being held for two weeks the men, named as Philippe F and Paul R, went before a judge on Wednesday, The judge decided to formally charge them and detain them in a high-security prison.

“We don’t know the reason for this decision,” Philippe F’s lawyer, Etienne de Villepin, told AFP.

Altogether, 21 suspects, including a Madagascar central bank employee, appeared in court in Antananarivo on Wednesday.

Eleven of them were also incarcerated, according to the Taratra government news agency, which published the names only in abbreviated form.

The presiding judge “is an honest and independent person,” said the Franco-Malagasy lawyer of Paul R, Willy Razafinjatovo.

He added that the two French suspects had been charged with endangering the security of the state, of conspiracy to kill the president and of associating with criminals.

“We hope that the investigation will continue in this way, without pressure from outside the court,” Razafinjatovo told reporters, adding the wish that the trial be televised.

No judicial official has given the names of those held, or details of the charges against them.

Last month, Madagascar officials said that a plot to assassinate Rajoelina had been foiled.

Rajoelina, 47, first seized power from Marc Ravalomanana in March 2009 with the backing of the military.

A number of army officials were among those implicated in the assassination plot.

He won the last vote in December 2018, beating Ravalomanana in an election beset by fraud allegations.

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