Burundi’s former minister pleads guilty for coup attempt

Burundian general Cyrille Ndayirukiye and four other defendants plead guilty for involvement in coup attempt

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Former Burundi defence minister Cyrille Ndayirukiye on December 18, 2015

Former Burundian Defence Minister Cyrille Ndayirukiye and four other defenants including two army generals and two police commissioners have pleaded guilty for attempting coup last May, officials said on Tuesday.

Total number of 28 police and military figures have standed in trial for accusations of attempting to oust Burundian President Nkurunziza while he was in the office.

They might face life imprisonment if they found guilty.

Ndayirukiye told the Supreme Court he and his co-accused should not take all the blame for the abortive coup, alleging that army chief Prime Niyongabo gave him the orders.

The failed coup attempt that five generals pleaded guilty was followed by violent street protests that began in April, when Nkurunziza announced a controversial bid to extend his rule in the office and seek third term despite two-term constitutional limit.

Godefroid Niyombare, general who leaded the failed coup is currently on the run.

Nkurunziza has been elected as president for a controversial third term in power in July. However, violence in the central African country continued to escalate.

Army general Ndayirukiye and other defendants defended themselves citing the government’s violent repression on opposition protests.

"I could not remain with my arms crossed while the police were killing the population, while President Pierre Nkurunziza was playing football and while the troops... appeared indifferent," Ndayirukiye said during his first statement from the witness box on Monday, the sources said.

Since April, more than 300 people have been killed and more than 210,000 others have fled violence in Burundi while government imprisoned hundreds for opposing the extention of Nkurunziza’s rule.

According to the officials, at least one person died and ten injured in Bujumbura in a series of grenade attacks early Friday.

The violence put an end to three weeks of relative calm after a day of bloodshed in the capital on December 11, when 87 people were killed, according to an official tally -- although UN sources estimate the toll was far higher.

TRTWorld and agencies