Faure Gnassingbe: Togo leader's brothers 'plotted coup'

Faure Gnassingbe taking the oath of office in 2010
Image caption Faure Gnassingbe was re-elected last year amid complaints of rigging

Two half-brothers of Togo's president have gone on trial, accused of plotting to stage a coup in 2009.

Former Defence Minister Kpatcha Gnassingbe was arrested as he sought refuge in the US embassy after the alleged coup attempt.

He is accused of masterminding the alleged coup plot, along with his brother Essolizam.

Faure Gnassingbe took power in 2005 following the death of his father, who had ruled Togo for 38 years.

President Gnassingbe was initially installed as leader by the governing party and the army. After international condemnation, elections took place, which he won, amid complaints of rigging from opposition parties and observers.

The BBC's Ebow Godwin in the capital, Lome, says the Supreme Court was packed as the trial opened.

He says the trial has brought to the fore the long-standing family rivalry between the two sons of the late President Gnassingbe Eyadema.

Family sources trace the bitterness between the two brothers to their childhood when Kpatcha, who was bigger than his older brother, was alleged to have made attempts to intimidate and bully Faure.

The sources say Kpatcha challenged the now president to a traditional wrestling bout but slipped at a crucial point and Faure won.

About 30 other people, including the former head of the armed forces, Assani Tidjani, are also accused of taking part in the alleged coup attempt, in which two people are said to have died.

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