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Comoros ex-president to appeal after two years’ house arrest

2 months ago
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Former Comoros president, Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, held under house arrest for two years without being charged, is to appeal his detention, his lawyer announced Saturday.

The case lodged with the country’s highest court of appeal is based on “violation of the code of criminal procedure relating to pre-trial detention”, Mahamoudou Ahamada told reporters, speaking on behalf of his client.

Ahamada said the former leader was being illegally detained as “the legal terms of preventive detention (eight months) have been exceeded, and no judge has charged him with anything.

“This isn’t a penal detention, it’s a political detention. A kidnapping,” he added.

Sambi, who served as president from 2006-2011 and is the main opponent of current President Azali Assoumani, has been held under house arrest since May 2018.

He was originally placed under house arrest for disturbing public order, his lawyer said.

Three months later he was placed under pre-trial detention for embezzlement, corruption and forgery, over a scandal involving the sale of Comoran passports to stateless people living in Gulf nations.

Sambi’s health had “deteriorated considerably” over the past year, said his lawyer.

A judge’s order dated January and seen by AFP authorises Sambi to seek medical care abroad before returning to detention.

“So far nobody has officially notified me of this order,” said Ahamada.

The Comoros islands – Anjouan, Grande Comore and Moheli – have endured years of grinding poverty and political turmoil, including about 20 coups or attempted coups, since independence from France in 1975.

The main opposition parties considered Azali’s government illegitimate because of suspected voting irregularities and boycotted the legislative election.