Senegal Court Jails Casamance Rebel Leader Badiate For Life

Senegal Court Jails Fugitive Rebel Leader for Life ( News Central TV)

A Senegalese court sentenced a fugitive rebel leader of the Casamance militant group Cesar Atoute Badiate and two other men to life in prison on Monday for murder and armed insurgency in connection with a massacre that claimed 14 lives.

Badiate, the leader of the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC), a rebel group fighting for autonomy in southern Senegal, was sentenced for the killings in his absence.

Another member of the group, Omar Ampoi Bodian, and journalist Rene Capain Bassene received the same sentence, according to their lawyer, Cire Cledor Ly.

Two other defendants received six-month suspended sentences from the court in Ziguinchor, Casamance’s main city, and 11 others were acquitted.

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The cases stemmed from an incident on January 6, 2018, in which 14 men were apprehended and executed while on their way to cut wood in a protected forest near Ziguinchor.

Casamance rebel fighters used the forest as a base, and Senegalese authorities accuse them of funding their operations through the trafficking of wood and cannabis.

The insurgents denied any involvement, blaming corrupt local officials.

Ly claimed his clients were the victims of a “judicial swindle,” claiming that those who had survived the massacre had not recognized the accused and that some of the defendants had been tortured.

The tiny state of The Gambia separates Casamance, Senegal’s southernmost region, from the rest of the country. It has its own culture and language as a result of its history as a former Portuguese colony.

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Since 1982, the MFDC has led a low-intensity separatist campaign that has claimed thousands of lives.

However, the conflict was mostly dormant until Senegal launched a major offensive to drive out the insurgents last year.

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