A court in Madagascar convicted six persons on Friday over a plot to kill President Andry Rajoelina and handed them different sentences, up to 20 years in prison with hard labour.
French-Malagasy dual national Paul Rafanoharana, who local media reported was once an adviser to Rajoelina, was handed the highest punishment in the trial for conspiring to kill the president.
Rajoelina began a second presidential term in 2019.
Frenchman Philippe François, a former officer in the French military, was jailed for ten years.
Another 14 persons have been acquitted.
A high court judge in the capital Antananarivo said the six, who also included a retired Malagasy army general, were guilty of charges including plotting to overthrow the government and criminal association with a view to threatening the president’s life.
All had denied the charges against them.
Maître Willy Razafinjatovo, one of the lawyers for Rafanoharana, told Reuters he would appeal the ruling in a higher court.
He said, “We are going to…have this trial set aside.”
“I am appalled. It is scandalous,” another lawyer for Rafanoharana, Maître Arlette Rafanomadio, said of the ruling.
The suspects were arrested in July and August of this year, but details of the plan have not been made public.
Rajoelina first seized power in the former French colony of 26 million people in a March 2009 coup, ousting Marc Ravalomanana.
The 47-year-old remained in control at the head of a transitional government until 2014.