Six people were found guilty of plotting to assassinate President Andry Rajoelina by a Madagascar court, and they were sentenced to 20 years in prison with hard labor.

Paul Rafanoharana, a dual French-Malagasy national who was once a presidential adviser, was given the harshest sentence in the trial for conspiring to kill his former boss, according to reports.

In 2019, Rajoelina began his second term as president of the Indian Ocean island.

Philippe François, a former officer in the French military, was sentenced to ten years in prison.

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Another 14 people have been found not guilty.

The six, who included a retired Malagasy army general, were found guilty of charges including plotting to overthrow the government and criminal association with the intent to endanger the president’s life, according to a high court judge in the capital Antananarivo. All of them had denied the allegations.

One of Rafanoharana’s lawyers, Maître Willy Razafinjatovo, said he would appeal the ruling to a higher court.

He stated, “We are going to…have this trial set aside.”

“I’m shocked. The ruling is “scandalous,” according to Maître Arlette Rafanomadio, another lawyer for Rafanoharana.

The suspects were apprehended in July and August of this year, but the plot’s details have yet to be revealed.

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In a coup in March 2009, Rajoelina, 47, took power in the former French colony of 26 million people, deposing Marc Ravalomanana. Until 2014, he remained in power as the head of a transitional government.

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