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Comoros ex-president to face charges of high treason: Lawyer

Comoros ex-president to face charges of high treason: Lawyer
Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi   -  
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Former Comorian President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi will be tried on charges of high treason, his lawyer and family said Monday (November 7), after spending four years in detention over corruption allegations.

The former head of state (2006-2011), the main opponent of the current president Azali Assoumani, was originally prosecuted for "embezzlement of public funds, corruption, forgery and use of forgeries" in the scandal known as "economic citizenship", which involved the sale of Comorian passports to stateless people from the Gulf States.

"They are talking to us today about high treason, a crime that will justify a heavier sentence before the State Security Court, whose decisions are not subject to appeal," said Tisslame Sambi, daughter of Mr. Sambi, contacted by phone by AFP.

"This referral to the State Security Court is the height of illegality and violation of the rules of procedure and the rights of the defense," said Ahamada Mahamoudou.

The date of the trial has not been disclosed. Asked by AFP, the government commissioner, Ali Mohamed Djounaid, said it was "not impossible that it will be held before the end of November.

The referral order dated September 10, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, stresses that since "the law has not defined high treason, nor fixed the penalties, nor provided for the procedure, it is appropriate to make a legal construction of this concept of high treason.

Several political figures have been indicted in the "economic citizenship" scandal revealed by a parliamentary report in 2017, including two former vice presidents in office between 2011 and 2016.

Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, 64, was placed under house arrest in May 2018 for disturbing public order and then in detention three months later. The legal length of pre-trial detention in the Indian Ocean archipelago is a maximum of eight months.

Doctors have been recommending for almost three years that the former president, whose health has deteriorated, be evacuated abroad for treatment. But President Assoumani's regime refuses to accede to this request, accusing Mr. Sambi of wanting to escape justice.

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