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Page last updated at 10:29 GMT, Thursday, 2 April 2009 11:29 UK

Guinea-Bissau army 'beats ex-PM'

Soldiers in Guinea-Bissau (File photo)
Amnesty wants the military reminded that they cannot arrest civilians

Guinea-Bissau's former Prime Minister Francisco Jose Fadul is recovering in hospital after being beaten by people dressed as soldiers.

Mr Fadul said 15 armed men in uniform had raided his house, assaulting him and his wife and stealing computers, phones and even their wedding rings.

The beating came after he had urged the government to hold the military to account for alleged corruption.

Meanwhile, presidential elections have been set for 28 June.

This is two months after the 60-day limit set by the constitution following the assassination of President Joao Bernardo Vieira on 2 March.

Mr Fadul is planning to contest the presidential elections on behalf of his party, Padec.

The government must investigate immediately these arrests and beatings by the military
Erwin van der Borght
Amnesty International

He said he would sue the prime minister and defence minister over the incident, as they are responsible for the military.

"They were wearing military uniforms, and they had Kalashnikov rifles, and military boots," Mr Fadul said.

Amnesty has called for the government to investigate the beating of Mr Fadul and prominent lawyer Pedro Infanda.

Mr Infanda was detained for four days and tortured after holding a news conference, in which the military was criticised last month, Amnesty reports.

"The government must investigate immediately these arrests and beatings by the military, and ensure those responsible are brought to justice and that similar attacks do not happen again," said Amnesty's Africa Programme Director Erwin van der Borght.

"The military must be told in no uncertain terms that they do not have the authority to arrest or detain civilians."

Last week, the prime minister of Cape Verde, which has close ties to Guinea-Bissau, said the country could not afford to hold elections within the prescribed period.

Mr Vieira was killed by a group of soldiers, who apparently blamed him for the death, hours earlier, of the army chief of staff.

Guinea-Bissau has a long history of coups and instability.

Its institutions have been made even more fragile since the country became a major hub for trafficking cocaine from Latin America to Europe.

Some senior military officials have been implicated in the drugs trade.



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SEE ALSO
Country profile: Guinea-Bissau
10 Mar 09 |  Country profiles

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