Niamey – A Niger court on Tuesday granted bail to presidential challenger Hama Amadou, who was detained in November on shadowy baby trafficking charges but is currently in France for medical treatment, his lawyer said.
President Mahamadou Issoufou was re-elected with 92% of the vote in a March 20 run-off for which Amadou had campaigned behind bars and which the opposition had boycotted.
“The decision is clear, he is free as of today,” Amadou’s lawyer Mossi Boubacar said.
Amadou was flown to France for medical treatment on March 16, just before the second-round vote, which opposition parties have branded a farce.
“He should be out today or tomorrow,” Amadou’s doctor Luc Karsenty told AFP in Paris.
A source close to the case in Niger said Amadou would not have to return to his prison in Filingue, 180km north of the capital Niamey, after his return.
Amadou’s supporters have branded the baby trafficking case against him as politically motivated and bogus.
The 66-year-old was detained on November 14 after returning from exile in France over allegations that he was involved in smuggling babies from Nigeria to wealthy patrons in Niger.
The court was supposed to rule on his conditional release on March 14 but put off the decision until March 28, well after the deciding second round.
About 20 people were accused of involvement in the so-called baby trafficking case, including bankers, leading businessmen and their spouses.
Amadou’s wife was also detained but released with all the others.
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