Conviction confirmed for 2 Frenchmen in Madagascar coup attempt

The two Frenchmen were convicted of an attempt to assassinate Madagascar’s president, Andry Rajoelina: their request to have their sentences of 10 and 20 years of hard labour overturned on Friday by Madagascar’s Court of Cassation.

The court “rejects the appeals,” the president said laconically during an expedited hearing.  Paul Rafanoharana, a former adviser to the Franco-Malagasian president, and Philippe François, a retired French army-turned-business colonel, were arrested in July 2021.

After an eight-day trial in December, they were found guilty of orchestrating an operation codenamed “Apollo 21” targeting Andry Rajoelina.

Paul Rafanoharana acknowledged the existence of a letter demanding large sums of money “for the overthrow of the regime” during the trial.

Philippe François is accused of acting as an accomplice by concealing the illegal activities of the Apollo 21 project.

They were sentenced to 20 years and 10 years of hard labour, respectively, for the attempted coup and assassination of the head of state.

After their appeals were dismissed, their lawyers told AFP they examined the possibility of extraditing their client to France. “But that would require recognising the Malagasy sentence and therefore recognising that there was indeed an attempted coup d’état,” explained one of them.


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