A military court in Sierra Leone has acquitted 13 soldiers accused of plotting to seize and kill President Ernest Bai Koroma in 2013.
Judge Advocate Otto During ruled in a verdict on Wednesday that there was insufficient evidence to link the accused to the crimes.
“The prosecution must prove its case beyond all reasonable doubt. If there is doubt, that doubt must be resolved for the accused,” he told the court.
A defence lawyer said it was the first time in decades that a Sierra Leone court martial had acquitted defendants.
The army is recovering from a civil war that ended in 2002 in which many soldiers took part in looting, human rights abuses or deserted to fight for the rebels.
Soldiers from the Fourth Infantry Brigade at the barracks in the northern town of Makeni, Koroma’s hometown, were arrested in August 2013.
They were charged with counts that included mutiny and conspiracy and put on trial in April 2014. One of the accused, Corporal Alex Jibao Koroma, was acquitted in February for lack of evidence.
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