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AFRICA

Örebro man jailed for Togo coup attempt

A naturalised Swedish citizen from Togo in western Africa, has been convicted of staging a coup against the regime there, leaving his family back in Örebro in central Sweden devastated with the surprise verdict.

”We have nothing. We are desperate and we feel totally alone,” Issifou Seidou’s daughter Rissa said to news agency TT.

The Swedish foreign ministry has confirmed that they are aware of the situation but told TT that their hands were tied because Sweden doesn’t have an embassy in Togo.

According to TT, France has handled Sweden’s affairs in Togo, but staff from the Swedish embassy in Nigeria have also visited Seidou on four occasions, most recently on July 26th.

Seidou was a general in the Togolese army who came to Sweden in the late 1980s after falling out of favour with the regime.

The president at the time, Gnassingbé Eyadéma, had him accused of staging a coup.

After two years of imprisonment in Togo, where he allegedly underwent torture, he was released and the family escaped to Sweden.

They settled in Örebro, but in late 2008, Seidou decided to go back to Togo.

Gnassingbé Eyadéma died in 2005, leaving the title to his son, Faure Gnassingbé.

Another son, Kpatcha Gnassingbé was appointed defence minister at the same time, but had been relieved of his post in 2007.

In 2009, Seidou was arrested, together with former minister Kpatcha Gnassingbé and 30 other people, accused of staging a coup against the regime. According to Seidou’s family there is no substance to these claims.

”My father is totally innocent. Despite serious torture they haven’t been able to make him confess to anything. He showed off his injuries during the trial. Amnesty International has aimed serious criticism against these methods,” daughter Rissa Seidou told daily Aftonbladet.

According to Seidou’s daughter, both the prosecutor and the judge said during the trial that unless new evidence could be presented to incriminate Seidou and the others, they would be released.

This was supposed to happen on Monday and when it didn’t, the family realised something had gone wrong.

”And now suddenly there is this verdict that can’t be appealed,” Seidou’s daughter told Expressen.

The family is now at a loss as to how to handle the situation. They have no idea what to do to sway Togolese authorities, excepting an international intervention.

”That is our only hope, there is nothing else. I can’t see who can turn to,” Rissa Seidou told TT.

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TURKEY

Turkey furious at axeing of Swedish coup panel

Turkey has angrily reacted to the cancellation of a panel in Sweden about the failed July coup attempt seeking to oust the government from power, calling it a "blow" to the freedom of expression.

Turkey furious at axeing of Swedish coup panel
Turkish people attempt to stop tanks in Ankara on July 16, 2016. Photo: TT
The panel “July 15th — Behind the Scene of the Bloody Coup” had been planned to take place in Stockholm on Friday.
   
The office of the Turkish prime minister, in a statement late on Friday, condemned the cancellation and said it was the result of “interference by some Swedish parliamentarians.”
   
“The cancellation of the panel planned to inform the international community on the treacherous coup attempt of July 15 against Turkey's democracy and parliamentarian system, and the prevention of Turkish
journalists from making a statement contradicts with Sweden's tradition as the country with the world's oldest piece of legislation on the freedom of media,” the statement said.
   
The panel should have taken place in a small school of a Stockholm district. Local authorities claim they cancelled the event because of security concerns.
   
“We did a risk assessment taking into account who would attend and what  could happen outside. I don't want my schools turned into a battlefield,” Bo Andersson, a Stockholm city schools official, said.
   
The Swedish foreign ministry has not commented. Turkey has blamed the failed putsch on a rogue group in the army led by US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, charges he denies.
   
The government has launched a relentless crackdown on alleged coup plotters, detaining or suspending tens of thousands of people from state institutions including in education.
   
The purge has alarmed European states, which have urged Turkey to act within the rule of law.
   
Furious with the cancellation of the planned event in Stockholm, Ankara said it expected “the European countries, which unfairly criticise Turkey for hindering the freedom of the press at every opportunity, to show the necessary
reaction to these attacks on the freedom of media and expression by Sweden.”
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