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Trial to Punish Those Behind an Attempted Coup

Twenty people including two Frenchmen went on trial in Madagascar on Monday accused of a plot to stage a coup and assassinate President Andry Rajoelina. The defendants face charges ranging from criminal association to compromising state security and planning to kill the head of state. The alleged operation has been called the “Apollo 21” plot, although only 20 of an initial 21 suspects were retained for trial. The defendants “put together a plan to eliminate or neutralise various Malagasy public figures including the head of state,” according to the prosecution. The two Frenchmen are Paul Rafanoharana, 58, a dual French-Malagasy national who is a former advisor to the president, and Philippe Francois, 54, an ex-colonel in the French army, who ran an investment company in Madagascar called Tsarafirst. The two men’s wives are also among the defendants.