Sao Tome to probe “inhuman treatment” of alleged coup plotters

 The government of Sao Tome and Principe has ordered an investigation into allegations of “cruel and inhuman acts” meted out by military personnel on some men the Prime Minister accused of attempting a coup d’état on the government last week. 

Was there indeed a coup attempt? 

It doesn’t seem so. Head of the Sao Tome and Principe government, Patrice Trovoada on November 25, said about four assailants were captured after about six hours of gunfire at the army headquarters in the capital Sao Tome. Also, two commanders, including the former president of the outgoing National Assembly and opponent Delfim Nevès were arrested at their homes. 

Mr. Trovoada claimed that the army foiled an “attempted coup” and that the four captured assailants identified Mr. Nevès and Mr. Costa as the commanders. 

The arrest of the alleged coup plotters spark reactions on social media with photos and videos showing acts of torture and harsh interrogations of three of the captured assailants and one of the alleged coup “sponsors” Arlécio Costa; an opponent and former mercenary by men believed to be military personnel. Other images that circulated on social media showed the four men dead. 

Confirming the development, Chief of staff Olinto Paquete announced two days later that three of the four assailants died in an “explosion”, without providing much detail, and that Arlécio Costa died while jumping from a vehicle, adding that 12 soldiers, who participated in the attempted coup, have also been arrested. 

Paquete has since on Thursday, resigned his position, stating that he could not “accept such atrocities and acts of treason that harm the country.” 

What’s the government saying now? 

According to local media, citing a government memo, the Santomean government has asked judicial authorities “to investigate cruel, degrading and inhuman acts perpetrated against individuals at the army headquarters and whose images have shocked and outraged the society”. 

The memo noted that the alleged acts were perpetrated “on individuals involved in the attempted coup and the assault on the headquarters” on Friday, November, 25. 

The Santomean Prime Minister has dismissed accusations that the coup is a maneuver by the government. 

“What would be the purpose of the government to organize a coup against itself when we took office 15 days ago?” He questioned.

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