Former Comorian President Sambi refuses to participate in his trial before the Security Court, which he considers to be an instrument of power. In several African countries, special courts have been set up to try opponents or former leaders who have become troublesome.
In the Comoros, former President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, who was in power from 2006 to 2011, has been in pretrial detention for more than four years now. His trial began Monday, before being adjourned. This Tuesday, the proceedings before the State Security Court will resume. But the former head of state will not participate in this trial. Sambi indeed refuses to be judged by this court, which he considers partial and at the service of the power in place. For one of his lawyers, "judging Sambi at the Security Court deprives him of all avenues of appeal", the decisions of this court being final. Especially since, tried for "high treason", the former president of the Comoros risks very big, while he was initially prosecuted for acts of embezzlement.
"The composition of the court is illegal, I do not want to be judged by this court", launched, before the start of the debates, Ahmed Abdallah Sambi. The lawyers of the former president even consider, more generally, the procedure arbitrary: Sambi has indeed been in pre-trial detention for more than four years, where the law limits the authorized period to eight months. In the entourage of the former head of state, the change of course of the famous Security Court is criticized: the accusation of "high treason" would indeed allow, according to those close to Sambi, to illegally maintain the latter behind bars. Especially since the declarations of the businessman Bachar Kiwan, who claims to have been contacted by the Comorian government to give “false testimony” against Sambi, sow doubt.
As in France in 1963
Could the Security Court be an instrument at the service of power? Certainly. The Comoros are not the only country to have set up a special jurisdiction which allows, thanks to accusations of endangering state security or treason, to silence an opponent or a former political leader. . We remember, in 2000, that Alpha Condé, who was then only an opponent of the Lansana Conté regime, had been sentenced to five years in prison by the Conakry Security Court for "undermining the authority of state and attempt to destabilize the country from abroad". "Charges of attempted coup d'etat, attack on the internal or external security of the State, collusion with foreign powers, participation in armed groups, incitement to insurrection or insult to the Head of State" are, according to researcher Christine Deslaurier, "overused offenses" by African rulers.
Questionable courts of justice, which allow imprisonment and judgment in an expeditious manner, without having to provide too much tangible evidence. In Benin, the Court for the Suppression of Economic Crimes and Terrorism (Criet) is a political instrument in favor of Patrice Talon. In the DRC, Ordinance-Law No. 300 of December 16, 1963 punishes offenses against the Head of State. In the Comoros, therefore, it is a Security Court. A jurisdiction modeled on what France once offered. In 1963, Paris had indeed set up a State Security Court after the attacks by the Organization of the Secret Army (OAS). At the time, it was a question of imprisoning the adversaries of French Algeria. In 1981, when François Mitterrand came to power, he quickly decided to abolish this court which, according to him, allowed "abusive recourse to the offense of insulting the head of state".