Benin Republic court sentences opposition leader to 10 years

A special court in Benin on Tuesday sentenced one of the country’s opposition figures, Joel Aivo, to 10 years in prison after a trial on treason and corruption charges.

The academic, who had been held for eight months, had said the charges of plotting against the state and money laundering were politically motivated.

He was convicted after a more than 16-hour trial, an AFP reporter said.

Several opposition leaders were detained before or just after the April 11 election that saw Benin President Patrice Talon win a second term with more than 86 per cent of the vote.

Aivo, one of the opposition figures who was barred from running in the presidential election, had pleaded not guilty when the trial opened Monday.

Arrested on April 15, Aivo was tried at the Economic Crime and Terrorism Court in the West African country’s administrative capital, Porto-Novo.

The CRIET, a special court set up in 2016, has often been accused by critics of serving as a tool by Talon’s regime to crack down on the opposition.

Once praised for its thriving multi-party democracy, critics say Benin has slipped steadily into authoritarian rule under former cotton magnate Talon.

Some opposition figures have fled the country while others were disqualified from running in elections, or targeted for investigation.

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