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French court blocks extradition in alleged Benin assassination plot

media Benin's President Thomas Boni Yayi Reuters/Chris Wattie

A French appeal court has ruled against the extradition of Beninese businessman Patrice Talon, who is accused of plottting to kill President Thomas Boni Yayi.

"I'm happy for democracy in my homeland," Talon said after Wednesday's judgement. "This is a fight for democracy in Benin."

And his lawyer, William Bourdon, claimed that the extradition request was a "mask for political persecution".

Talon, who has interests in the important cotton trade and in Cotonou port, used to be close to Boni Yayi but fled the country after being accused of corruption.

In 2012 he and his right-hand man, Olivier Boko, were accused of masterminding an assassination attempt against the president along with his doctor, his niece and other members of the president's entourage.

The other accused were acquitted but are still in prison awaiting an appeal against that ruling.

A Paris court turned down a request for the extradition of Talon and Boko on 23 October on the grounds that a fair trial was not guaranteed in Benin and that the death penalty, although no longer applied, has not been abolished.

The appeal court on Wednesday backed up that decision.

The Paris prosecutor's office has the right to take the case to a higher court but has indicated that it opposes the request itself.

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