Niger’s Opposition Leader Jailed in Absentia
A court in Niger has sentenced main opposition leader Hama Amadou to a year in prison for child smuggling.
Amadou stood against President Mahamadou Issoufou in elections in March. He is now in exile in France and was tried in absentia.
His lawyers were also not present in court in protest over a trial which they said was a parody of justice.
Amadou has repeatedly denied charges that he profited by buying new born babies from neighbouring Nigeria.
It was alleged that he and his wife – along with several others – were involved in a plot falsely to claim the parenthood of about 30 children from Nigeria who were then sold to affluent couples in Niger.
Defence lawyers argued that the case against him was politically motivated and should be adjourned to allow time for documents relating to the case to be sent to Amadou in France.
But their request was rejected by the trial judge.
The defence also argue that the ultimate aim of the trail is to prevent Amadou from running in 2021 elections.
Those defendants who were in court refused to answer questions – their lawyers say it is likely they will appeal.