President Azali Assoumani

Comorian justice has sentenced four opposition relatives to forced labour in perpetuity for “conspiracy” and “undermining state security”.

Among the convicts are former Vice President Djaffar Said Ahmed Hassane, who opposed the recent constitutional referendum organized by the head of state, Azali Assoumani. Currently a refugee in Tanzania, he is subject to an international arrest warrant.

The other three are the brother of the former vice president, the lawyer Bahassane Ahmed Said, the writer Said Ahmed Said Tourqui and an officer, the commander Faissoil Abdousalam.

During their two-day trial, which ended on Saturday, the State Security Court also sentenced three other defendants, including Colonel Ibrahim Salim, to between three and 20 years’ imprisonment.

At the beginning of the hearing, Bahassane Ahmed Said’s party denounced in a statement an “exceptional court, against human rights, democracy and the rule of law”.

A former putschist democratically elected in 2016, Comorian President Azali Assoumani organized a constitutional referendum in July that allows him to rule until 2029. The opposition denounces the authoritarian drift of the head of state. Several of its leaders, including the leader of the Juwa party and former president Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, have since been arrested and detained on remand.

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