Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Niger Rights Leader Free on Bail

Niger rights chief free on bail

2009-09-15 18:03

Niamey - A Niger court on Tuesday released on bail the head of a rights group who led opposition to the president's efforts to cling to power, his lawyer said.

The court of appeal in Niamey freed Marou Amadou, the head of the United Front for the Protection of Democracy (Fusad) non-governmental organisation, after he spent a month in a high-security jail.

Judges overturned an appeal by prosecutors, who on September 1 blocked an attempt by a court to release the activist on bail.

The prosecutors argued Amadou presented a risk to public order and he was forced to stay in jail to await the appeal court decision.

"He will get out this evening," Amadou's lawyer Marc Lebihan told reporters, adding preparations were still under way for the activist to face trial.

"Prosecutors can still appeal to the Supreme Court but that can't stop Marou from getting out of prison today," said Ali Idrissa, a senior official from Amadou's Fusad movement.

The activist was jailed on August 13 in the high-security prison of Koutoukale, west of Niamey.

Amadou was arrested over his involvement with Fusad, which was set up to fight President Mamadou Tandja's bid to stay in office after the end of his second term.

The activist faced a charge of "managing an undeclared organisation", Fusad said.

Fusad had called for a "general mobilisation" to topple the government after Tandja won a controversial August 4 referendum to bring in a new constitution which extends his stay in office.

The modifications allow the 71-year-old president, in power since 1999, to stand for re-election after the December 22 end of his second tenure and thereafter seek repeated mandates.

-SAPA

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