Top Benin Judge Says Flees Country Denouncing Pressure
A top Benin judge on Monday said he had quit and fled the West African country, condemning political pressure that he alleged included a demand to detain an opposition figure in the runup to presidential elections
Cotonou (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 5th Apr, 2021 ) :A top Benin judge on Monday said he had quit and fled the West African country, condemning political pressure that he alleged included a demand to detain an opposition figure in the runup to presidential elections.
His denunciation comes as critics accuse President Patrice Talon of cracking down on opponents, including rivals who had sought to contest Sunday's ballot.
Essowe Batamoussi said he had stepped down as a justice with the Economic Crime and Terrorism Court (CRIET), which oversaw a probe into opposition candidate Reckya Madougou, who was arrested last month.
"All the decisions that we have had to take have been under pressure, including the one which put Reckya Madougou in detention." Madougou, whose candidacy for the election was rejected, was arrested last month and accused of plotting acts of terrorism to disrupt the elections.
Benin's officials did not want to comment on Batamoussi's remarks.
"It is too early to talk about the judge's resignation because no document has been filed concerning that," said a source in the CRIET.
Benin has long been seen as a vibrant multi-party democracy, but Talon's critics say the country has veered into authoritarianism under his rule.
Seventeen other candidates, including Madougou, had their candidacies rejected by the electoral commission for failing to garner the required signatures of support from 16 mayors or MPs.
That requirement was introduced by Talon in a contested electoral reform.
Sebastien Ajavon, an opponent who came third in the previous election and was already sentenced by CRIET in 2018 to 20 years in prison for drug trafficking, was again sentenced in early March in absentia to a second sentence for forgery.