Africa

Togo leader Gnassingbe's brother jailed for coup plot

Faure Gnassingbe taking the oath of office in 2010
Image caption Faure Gnassingbe and his half-brother were bitter rivals

A half-brother of Togo's President Faure Gnassingbe has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for plotting a coup.

The Supreme Court convicted Kpatcha Gnassingbe, the former defence minister, of trying to depose the president in 2009.

Another half-brother, Essolizam, a businessman, was acquitted.

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

The court convicted an army general and a major with Kpatcha Gnassingbe.

Twenty other suspects, including Essolizam, were acquitted.

'Childhood rivalry'

The BBC's Ebow Godwin in the capital, Lome, says Kpatcha Gnassingbe did not seem worried by the sentence.

Instead, he smiled and waved as he was led out of court, our reporter says.

At the time of the alleged plot, elite forces raided Kpatcha Gnassingbe's home, causing a bloody gunfight.

He was arrested as he sought refuge in the US embassy in Lome.

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.

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