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Burundi ex-president acquitted of coup and assassination charges

[JURIST] Former Burundi President Domitien Ndayizeye [BBC profile] and four others were acquitted by the Supreme Court of Burundi [official website] Monday on charges of attempting a coup [JURIST report] and planning to assassinate current President Pierre Nkurunziza [Wikipedia profile]. Two other accused, Alain Mugabarabona and Tharcisse Ndayishimiye, were convicted and sentenced to jail on similar charges. Mugabarabona, the leader of the small National Liberation Forces (FNL) Hutu political party, allegedly masterminded the plot [IOL report]. After his arrest in August [JURIST report], he told radio stations [JURIST report] that he was tortured by the Burundi police and intelligence bureau Documentation Nationale and threatened with death if he did not admit that a coup plot existed. He claimed he was coerced into making false statements incriminating other alleged conspirators, including Ndayizeye and former Vice-President Alphonse-Marie Kadege. AFP has more. BBC has additional coverage

Nkurunziza, elected in August 2005 after a series of peace talks [BBC report] between the majority Hutus and the minority Tutsis, was the first president of Burundi to be democratically elected since the beginning of an ethnic civil war 12 years ago [Global Security backgrounder]. The war was sparked by the assassination of the country's first democratically elected Hutu president in 1993 and has since wracked Burundi, one of the world's poorest countries.

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