Three Soldiers Behind Gabon’s Failed 2019 Coup Jailed For 15 Years

Channels Television  
Updated July 1, 2021



Three soldiers behind a failed coup in Gabon in 2019 have been sentenced to 15 years’ prison, the prosecutor told AFP on Thursday.

The three, including Lieutenant Kelly Ondo Obiang who was a member of the elite Republican Guard, had gone on state television in January 2019 calling for a “public uprising” during the short-lived coup.

Five policemen and a civilian who were on trial alongside them were acquitted, the prosecutor said, adding the verdict was handed down overnight.

The defendants had faced life imprisonment if convicted.

“My clients are happy, they made a victory sign to those present,” one of their lawyers, Jean-Pierre Moumbembe, told AFP, adding that he had appealed the verdict.

Renegade soldiers launched a coup on January 7, 2019, when longtime President Ali Bongo Ondimba was out of the country recuperating from a stroke.

Bongo, who has ruled the oil-rich equatorial country for over a decade, had a stroke in October 2018 while in Saudi Arabia, and was hospitalised in Riyadh.

His supporters put down the  brief coup bid that challenged an elected family presidency that has ruled for more than 50 years.

Bongo took over from his father Omar Bongo Ondimba, head of state from 1967 until he died in 2009.

The nine defendants went on trial on June 18 for “undermining internal security of the State” and had faced the possibility of life imprisonment.

According to their lawyers, they wanted to prevent the president’s brother, Frederic Bongo, from taking power by force and had been in particular concerned about the presence of “mercenaries” in the country.