Guinea-Bissau sacks magistrates over coup case

Guinea-Bissau has suspended five out of the seven magistrates under the military prosecutor for refusing to investigate a case about last year’s attempted coup, state media reports.

“The president of the military court deemed the magistrates’ reluctance to handle the case of those charged with the attempted coup d’état as insubordination,” military sources told the ANG website.

It added that the five magistrates stopped going to work on April 13 after presenting themselves to the chief of staff of the Armed Forces, General Biague Na N’Tan.

The magistrates said that the case was not within their jurisprudence and should be handled by the civil courts.

In February last year, unidentified gunmen stormed the government palace and held the president and prime minister hostage for over six hours before the military ended the siege.

Eighteen suspects have since been charged in connection with the incident.

The president of Guinea-Bissau has said he survived a coup attempt after being under heavy gunfire for five hours.

Umaro Sissoco Embaló said the attackers tried to kill him and his entire cabinet at the government palace.

He said many others had been killed in the fighting on both sides. Local media reported at least six deaths – four attackers and two guards.

The attackers were linked to drug trafficking in the country, he said, without providing further details.

Gunfire erupted near government buildings on Tuesday in the capital of the West African nation, where the president was attending a cabinet meeting.

A security source, who did not want to be identified, told the BBC that gunmen in civilian clothes had opened fire and a police officer had been killed. Some initial reports also said that the cabinet had been captured.

Mr Embaló, however, said the attackers failed to break into the cabinet meeting.

“What I can guarantee is that the situation is under control,” he said.

Guinea-Bissau, with a population of just under two million people, is one of the poorest countries in the world. The former Portuguese colony has seen nine coups or attempted coups since 1980. -BBC

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