Court Strips Ousted Niger President Mohamed Bazoum Of Immunity

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A top Court in Niamey has stripped off the immunity being enjoyed by ousted Niger’s President, Mohamed Bazoum.

Lawyers to the ousted president on Friday said this move by the court to strip their client of his immunity signals that the military junta would launch criminal proceedings against him.

Bazoum and his wife Hadiza have been detained in the president’s palace without a telephone since the coup last July.

Since then, Niger’s new military leaders have brought in drastic policy changes – including severing defence and diplomatic ties with former colonial power France and pivoting towards Russia.

With the ruling of the court, the military junta has been legally empowered to prosecute him on charges of treason, undermining national security and financing terrorism.

Mr Bazoum’s lawyers have called the process a “travesty” and withdrew from a hearing last week.

One of his lawyers, Moussa Coulibaly in a statement, said the court proceedings “violated the absolute rights of the defence: we were not authorised to meet our client and the court refused to hear our arguments,” he added.

A former president’s communications adviser Hamid N’Gade told the AFP news agency, “I don’t even know if President Bazoum is aware of the lifting of his immunity,”

“We only get news about him from his doctor who sees him twice a week. No one knows how he is coping psychologically,” he added.