By John Ikani
Two French nationals convicted for planning a coup against Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina have been sentenced to 10 and 20 years in prison respectively.
Paul Rafanoharana and Philippe François were prosecuted for endangering state security, criminal association and conspiracy to assassinate the president.
Authorities say they uncovered the coup plot, dubbed “Apollo 21”, after seizing emails, weapons and money during a raid in July.
It said details included plans to “eliminate and neutralise” a number of people, including the president.
François, a former Colonel of the French army, was handed a 10-year sentence.
Rafanoharana, who is Franco-Malagasy and once served as an adviser to President Rajoelina, received 20 years. His wife was also given a five-year jail sentence.
20 other co-accused were also given prison terms, including former Madagascar Prime Minister Victor Ramahatra who was handed a five-year suspended prison sentence.
Reacting to the sentence, lawyers of the French nationals said they plan on appealing the sentence.
“It is not what I expected, it is an unfair verdict… it is a political trial,” defence lawyer Solo Radson is quoted as saying by AFP news agency.
Madagascar has had a long history of coups and unrest since gaining independence from France in 1960.