LOME - Togolese police have searched the home of the half-brother of the country‘s president, who is currently serving a prison sentence over an alleged 2009 coup plot, his lawyer said Tuesday.
The search occurred on Monday night at the home of Kpatcha Gnassingbe, sentenced in September 2011 to 20 years in prison over the alleged coup plot, according to lawyer Raphael Kpande-Adzare.
„Personnel from the gendarmerie on Monday night ... searched the home of Kpatcha Gnassingbe, looking for weapons, but they found nothing,“ he said. „We don‘t know what is behind the gendarmerie‘s raid of Kpatcha‘s home.“ Police declined to comment when contacted by AFP.
Kpande-Adzare said Gnassingbe‘s wife still lives at the house. The search comes ahead of parliamentary elections expected in October, though a specific date has not yet been set and some in the opposition have been pushing for a postponement to allow more time for reforms.
Opposition and civil society groups have also held a series of protests in recent months, some of which have been dispersed by tear gas. Three days of protests have been planned for next week. Togo‘s supreme court in September sentenced the president‘s half-brother to 20 years in prison and 32 others to a range of jail terms over the alleged 2009 coup plot in the west African nation.
A former head of the armed forces, Assani Tidjani, was also given 20 years in prison, while a second half-brother of President Faure Gnassingbe received a 24-month sentence, with one month suspended following the controversial trial. The verdicts and sentencing came after questions had been raised over whether there was in fact a coup plot, with analysts noting a strong rivalry between the president and Kpatcha Gnassingbe.
Some have argued that Kpatcha Gnassingbe, a former defence minister, had been eyeing the presidency in 2010. In July, Togo‘s supreme court rejected a request to review the trial of those convicted over the plot.
The request was brought in March after Togo‘s human rights commission found those convicted had suffered „acts of physical violence, and inhuman and degrading treatment“ when they were detained at the national intelligence agency after their arrest. Togo has been run by the same family for more than four decades. Gnassingbe Eyadema ruled the country for 38 years with an iron fist until his death in 2005.
Faure Gnassingbe was installed in the presidency by the army in 2005 shortly after the announcement of the death of his father, who had been a general. He has since won elections in 2005 and 2010. - Nampa/AFP