August 24, 2010 / 5:12 AM / 10 years ago

Eq Guinea executes four coup convicts: Amnesty

DAKAR (Reuters) - The oil-producing African state of Equatorial Guinea has executed four ex-military officers convicted of a failed armed attack on its presidential palace last year, rights group Amnesty International said on Monday.

Equatorial Guinea's President, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, addresses the 64th United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, September 23, 2009. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Equatorial Guinea handed down death sentences to the four on Saturday on charges of terrorism and treason but did not say in the statement it released at the time when the executions would take place.

“These men were convicted after an unfair trial, sentenced to death and executed with chilling speed without having the slightest opportunity to appeal their sentence,” Erwin van der Borght, Africa Director at Amnesty, said in a statement.

Amnesty said the four sentenced — Jose Abeso Nsue, Manuel Ndong Anseme, Jacinto Micha Obiang and Alipio Ndong Asumu — had been living as refugees in nearby Benin but were abducted in January and placed in secret detention prior to their trial.

Equato-Guinean officials in the capital Malabo were not immediately reachable for comment.

The tiny central African state’s armed forces repelled gunmen in motorboats who tried to storm the palace of President Teodoro Obiang Bguema in February of last year.

Obiang’s government is trying to clean up its image as one of Africa’s most corrupt and repressive nations and so attract investment. It currently benefits from oil output at 300,000 barrels a day but its reserves are in decline.

The country was listed 12th from bottom in a list of 180 countries ranked on efforts to stamp out graft by Berlin-based Transparency International in 2009.

Few of its 650,000 inhabitants have yet to enjoy its oil wealth, while Obiang’s government has been the centre of U.S. and Spanish inquiries into the purchase of multi-million dollar estates in those countries.

Obiang took power in a 1979 coup. He won a fresh 7-year term in a landslide election last year that critics said was rigged.

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