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Burundi prosecutors call for life imprisonment for former prime minister

Burundi's new prime minister Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni attends the national funeral of late Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza, , on June 26, 2020.   -  
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Prosecutors in Burundi on Thursday called for sacked prime minister Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni to be sentenced to life in prison, a judicial source and witnesses said.

He has been on trial since September before the Supreme Court, sitting in session at the prison in the political capital Gitega where he is being detained.

Bunyoni was prime minister from mid-2020 until September 2022 when he was fired, days after President Evariste Ndayishimiye warned of a "coup" plot against him.

He is accused of threatening the life of the head of state, undermining national security, attempting to topple government institutions, destabilising the economy, and illegal enrichment, among other charges.

"For all these reasons, I request that Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni be punished with a sentence of penal servitude for life," said prosecutor Jean-Bosco Bucumi.

Bucumi also called for a fine of around $2,500 and "damages equivalent to twice the value of the 153 houses and plots of land and the 43 vehicles belonging to him".

A former police chief and internal security minister, Bunyoni was seen as the head of a cabal of military leaders known as "the generals" who wielded the true political power in Burundi

Appearing in the dock with six co-defendants, he pleaded not guilty to all charges and said he should be acquitted because of a lack of evidence against him.

The presiding judge said a verdict would be issued within 30 days.

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