Sierra Leone charges 27 soldiers over foiled coup attempt

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A court in Sierra Leone has charged 27 soldiers with multiple offences over an alleged coup attempt.

“The charges include mutiny, failure to suppress mutiny, murder, aiding the enemy, communicating with the enemy and other relevant offences,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

Last November, gunmen broke into a military armoury and several prisons in Freetown, freeing almost 2,000 inmates.

The authorities described this as an attempt to “overthrow” the government.

Last week, in connection with the same incident, former President Ernest Bai Koroma was charged with treason. He denied any involvement in the events during which about 20 people were killed.

The authorities are also prosecuting one of Mr Koroma’s former presidential bodyguards alongside 11 former police and correctional officers.

They have been accused of treason, concealing treason and “harbouring, aiding and abetting the enemy”.

Pre-trial proceedings against the 27 soldiers began in a court in the capital, Freetown, on Monday. The trial was adjourned to Wednesday.

The violence in November came five months after an election which saw current President Julius Maada Bio re-elected for a second term.

The results were rejected by the opposition and criticised by international observers for a lack of transparency.

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