In Benin, the heavy hand of justice on political opponents

In Benin, the trials of opponents are linked and the verdicts are heavy. Four days after the conviction of law professor Joël Aïvo to ten years of detention, former minister Reckya Madougou, whose candidacy for the presidential election of April 11 had also been rejected, was sentenced on Saturday December 11 to twenty years of criminal imprisonment and 50 million CFA francs (76,200 euros) of fine by the Court of repression of economic offenses and terrorism (Criet) for “Complicity in terrorist acts”. Four other defendants tried in this case were punished with the same sentence, another was acquitted.

“Mr. President, everyone will have understood that I am not a terrorist but that I remain a brave activist who for twenty years, has been involved in the civic education of young people, the leadership and the empowerment of women ‘, declared Reckya Madougou, who presents herself as a staunch defender of democracy in her country.

Read also Benin: the fall of the ambitious Reckya Madougou, a figure of the opposition

The day before her trial, she had been extracted at sunrise from Akpro-Missérété remand center, on the outskirts of Porto-Novo, capital of Benin, where she had been detained for nine months. Driving inside a prison administration van, she arrived shortly after at the court where supporters were waiting for her wearing t-shirts bearing her image.

Woman of influence in West Africa

The hearing then took place in a stormy climate. In the middle of the morning, Antoine Vey, one of the French lawyers of Reckya Madougou, left the courtroom. “La Criet is not an impartial and independent court”, he lost his temper during an impromptu press conference outside the court, denouncing the stranglehold of the executive power on the judges. “The scenario of this trial is written in advance”, he concluded.

Aged 47, twice a minister in her country, Reckya Madougou is a woman of influence in West Africa. Between 2016 and 2020, she was the special advisor to the Togolese Head of State Faure Gnassingbé and, in this capacity, supervised the establishment of an agricultural financing mechanism. It is also said to be close to the Senegalese Macky Sall.

Brilliant and determined, she has received many accolades such as the International Woman of Courage Award from the US State Department as well as the congratulations of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for her efforts in favor of the empowerment of women and young people. She embarked on the presidential race at the beginning of the year, after being invested by the party “The Democrats” of the former President of the Republic Thomas Boni Yayi (2006-2016), whose seals she was in particular guarding.

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In Benin, the heavy hand of justice on political opponents

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