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Guinea Jails Protest Leaders For Up To 12 Months

Guinean policemen stand guard a road as protesters demonstrate in Conakry on October 14, 2019. A 16-year-old boy was killed and four other people were injured on October 14 when police in the Guinean capital Conakry opened fire in clashes with protestors, a doctor said. The incident happened in the suburb of Sonfonia Gare, on a day of demonstrations called to oppose constitutional changes that could enable 81-year-old President Alpha Conde to seek a third term in office. PHOTO: CELLOU BINANI / AFP

A court in Guinea’s capital Conakry on Tuesday handed down jail terms of up to a year against the leaders of protests this month that have claimed up to 10 lives.

Abdourahamane Sanoh, coordinator of the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC), an alliance of opposition groups, was given a 12-month term, and four other leaders were sent down for six months.

They were found guilty of initiating a wave of unauthorised protests on October 14 that brought much of the West African state to a standstill.

The opposition says 10 protestors have been shot dead by police in successive days of clashes. The authorities put the toll at eight, plus a gendarme.

Dozens of people have been injured.

Lawyers for the defendants said they would file an appeal. Three other defendants were found not guilty.

The prosecutors had sought maximum sentences of five years for seven of the accused and fines of two million Guinean francs ($190, 194 euros).

The protests have been stirred by speculation that Conde, 81, plans to change the constitution in order to overcome a ban on seeking a third term in office.

A former opposition figure, Conde became Guinea’s first democratically elected president in 2010.

But critics say his rule has become increasingly authoritarian. About 100 demonstrators have been killed by police gunfire since he came to power, according to the opposition.

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