Niger sets trial date for suspects in 2015 'coup' bid

WEB_PHOTO_Niger_president_Mahamadou_Issoufou_09012018

Niger's president Mahamadou Issoufou gives a press conference with France's President at the Presidential palace in Niamey on December 23, 2017.

Niger's president Mahamadou Issoufou gives a press conference with France's President at the Presidential palace in Niamey on December 23, 2017.

WEB_PHOTO_Niger_president_Mahamadou_Issoufou_09012018

Niger's president Mahamadou Issoufou gives a press conference with France's President at the Presidential palace in Niamey on December 23, 2017.

Niger's president Mahamadou Issoufou gives a press conference with France's President at the Presidential palace in Niamey on December 23, 2017.

NIAMEY – The trial of soldiers accused of involvement in a purported bid to overthrow Niger&39;s President Mahamadou Issoufou in December 2015 will get under way on January 23, a source said Monday.

Those implicated in the alleged coup include General Souleymane Salou, former chief of staff; Colonel Idi Abdou Dan Haoua, in charge of an air base near the capital Niamey; and Major Nare Maidoka, head of the 1st artillery battalion in Tillaberi.

A military tribunal, meeting in a police camp in Niamey, "agreed to reschedule the trial to January 23 at the request of the defendants&39; attorneys," the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The source was unable to say how many would be going on trial.

READ: Nine Niger military officers detained for alleged coup plot

The allegations date to December 17, 2015, when Issoufou, who at the time was campaigning for a second term in office, said a coup had been thwarted -- an allegation contested by the opposition which demanded proof.

In March 2017 a group of civilians, including political dissidents, were released in connection with the purported coup after being given a "partial dismissal" by a judge, their lawyer said.