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Rebel leader Bacar faces justice in Reunion

Latest update : 2008-03-29

Mohamed Bacar, the renegade leader of the Comoran island of Anjouan, appears in court on the island of Reunion, with officials suggesting he could be deported back to Comoros. Anaïs Charles Dominique reports.

Comorian rebel leader Mohamed Bacar, wanted by the Comoros government for leading a separatist government on one of the archipelago’s islands, is likely to be deported from the French island of Reunion, French officials said on Friday.

 

Comoros has demanded France send Bacar back to face trial there, but Reunion state prosecutor Francois Muguet said he had not been informed of any formal international arrest warrant from the Comoros authorities.

 

He said Bacar would be tried on Saturday for illegally entering French territory and importing weapons, and the trial “could result in deportation”.

 

But he added that the hearing could be delayed by 10-15 days if Bacar appealed for time to prepare his defence.

 

He also said he would not be able to sign an order while a decision on whether to grant asylum was pending.

 

Relations between the two countries are fraught, and Comoros has long been suspicious of what it sees as French meddling in its former colony, which became independent in 1975.

 

Bacar and 22 soldiers from the Indian Ocean island of Anjouan fled to the nearby French island of Mayotte this week to escape Comorian and African Union troops who toppled his renegade government.

 

His presence on Mayotte provoked rioting and he was transferred to the larger island of Reunion on Thursday and immediately placed in detention.

 

French Overseas Territories Minister Yves Jego has said France will consider a request for asylum, but he indicated that Bacar and the soldiers with him were likely to be deported.

 

“They should normally return to the Comoros,” he told reporters.

Date created : 2008-03-29

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