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Benin president pardons 'poison-plot' businessman who fled to France

media Benin businessma Patrice Talon

Benin’s President Thomas Boni Yayi has pardoned a businessman who fled to France after being accused of trying to poison the leader and launch a coup along with his alleged accomplices, six of whom are in jail.

In a televised address on Wednesday evening Boni Yayi announced that Talon, another businessman currently living abroad and "all the prisoners implicated in these cases” were pardoned and called on legal authorities to free those in jail and “guarantee freedom of movement” to them all.

The decision had been taken thanks to mediation by Senegalese former-president Abdou Diouf on the initiative of French President François Hollande, he said, adding that Talon had expressed “his regrets”.

In 2013 Talon, 55, who was a major player in the country’s vital cotton industry and in the port of Cotonou, financed Boni Yayi’s last two election campaigns was accused of being behind an attempt to poison the president and launch a coup the previous year.

He had already fled the country after being accused of corrupt business practises.

Former trade minister Mudjaidou Soumanou, the president’s doctor, Ibrahim Mama Cisse, and his niece, Zoubérath Kora-Séké, were also accused of involvement.

A presidential biodyguard, Bachirou Adjani, an army colonel, Pamphile Zomahoun, and businessman Johannes Dagnon were arrested later.

Talon was arrested in France in December 2012 but freed on parole and an extradition attempt was finally turned down in December 2013.

Last month the Supreme Court reversed the dismissal of charges by two lower courts, one of the judges involved Angelo Houssou, having been arrested trying to flee the country on the same day as he made his ruling.

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