Sierra Leone charges 12 for roles in coup attempt

Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio at the 64th Economic Community of West African States Head of States and Government in Abuja, December 10, 2023. [AFP photo]

Sierra Leone on Tuesday charged 12 people with treason and other offences for their roles in what authorities have called an attempted coup on November 26, a news release said.

One of those charged was Amadu Koita, whom the government has said was one of the organizers of the coup attempt.

A former soldier and bodyguard of former President Ernest Bai Koroma, Koita was widely followed on social media networks where he criticized the government of current President Julius Maada Bio.

He was arrested on December 4 and is one of 85 people - most of them military personnel - who were arrested in connection with the events of November 26.

The 12 alleged perpetrators, including former police officers, were handed charges including "treason, misprision of treason, harbouring, aiding, and abetting the enemy," according to a news release signed by Information Minister Chernor Bah.

Eleven of them were brought before a judge in the capital Freetown, with the case of one of the accused postponed due to illness, the statement said, adding that all had legal representation.

On November 26, armed attackers stormed a military armoury, two barracks, two prisons and two police stations, clashing with security forces.

Twenty-one people were killed and hundreds of prisoners escaped before authorities were able to regain control after what they deemed a coup attempt by members of the armed forces.

The violence sparked fears of another coup in West Africa, where Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Guinea have all experienced putsches since 2020.

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