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Sentencing of Benin's opposition leader sparks reactions

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YANICK FOLLY/AFP or licensors


The leader of opposition in Benin was sentenced to 20 years in jail on Saturday following a trial described by her legal team as a "political attack".

Reckya Madougou was one of several Benin opposition leaders banned from running in an election last April in which President Patrice Talon won a second term with 86 percent of the vote.

Residents in the economic capital, Cotonou reacted to the news.

"We say in our language that, it's an adage, that "the dog who spilled the oil, it is he who drinks it up" so if someone has done something, he will be judged, we see if it is good or not good, that is his fate" said Mathieu Atchotin. 

Another resident, Joël Amoussou, added: 

"When I go back to the city, these stories of justice and other things don't mean anything to me. My concern is to have the minimum to provide for my family", he admitted.

Political interference

Government officials dismiss claims of political interference. 

Less than a week before the April election, a judge from the special court fled Benin denouncing political pressure to make rulings, in particular in the case of Madougou's arrest.

The former president of the Bar reaffirmed the independence Benin's judiciary.

"The trials that have taken place have nothing to do with politics, on the one hand, and these trials have respected the criteria of a fair trial, namely, reasonable time, adversarial process and double jeopardy" reaffirmed Jacques Migan.

In a tweet published after the sentencing, the opposition leader's France-based lawyer Antoine Vey denounced the special court's procedures.

Reckya Madougou was arrested in the economic capital Cotonou in March, just weeks before the presidential elections.

Madougou was accused of financing an operation to assassinate political figures in an alleged bid to "destabilise" the country.

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