Madagascar accuses judge of links to coup plotters

Sat Nov 27, 2010 8:38am GMT

ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) - Madagascar on Friday charged a former judge at the International Court of Justice with threatening state security, accusing Raymond Ranjeva of links with rebel troops behind last week's failed coup attempt.

Justice Minister Christine Razanamahasoa said Ranjeva had been released on bail. He had been questioned earlier in the week over possible connections between the mutiny and his past declarations he was willing to be part of a new government.

The rebellion ended almost a week ago after the army stormed the BANI barracks on the outskirts of the capital Antananarivo and arrested nearly 20 military officers who had threatened to overthrow the government on the Indian Ocean island.

"Raymond Ranjeva has not been sent to jail. He is accused of threatening the internal security of the state," Razanamahasoa told Reuters by telephone, adding he had links with officers behind the mutiny.

It was not clear whether Ranjeva would plead guilty or not and it was not immediately possible to contact him. No date has been set for the trial, the minister said.

Military police commander Colonel Richard Ravalomanana told Reuters that 10 of the dissident troops held on charges including rebellion and threatening state security had also appeared before the court.

It was unclear if any had been temporarily released from detention.

Political analysts said Ranjeva, who hails from the Merina nobility, had widespread support among civil society leaders and might have made a popular leader had the plot been successful.

In October, Ranjeva publicly lashed out at President Andry Rajoelina, accusing Africa's youngest leader of turning his back on a negotiated end to the political turmoil, triggered when Rajoelina seized power with military support in March 2009.   Continued...

<p>Madagascan President Andry Rajoelina addresses supporters in the capital Antananarivo February 14, 2009. REUTERS/Carl Hocquart (MADAGASCAR)</p>
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