The trial of 28 men accused of launching a failed coup
in Burundi opened Monday, including the alleged
second in command, a former defence minister and
army general named Cyrille Ndayirukiye.
Burundi's crisis began in April when President Pierre
Nkurunziza announced his intention to run for a
controversial third term, which he went on to win in
July. On May 13-14, soldiers staged the failed coup
The defendants, who appeared under tight security in
a court room in Gitega, some 100 kilometres (60
miles) east of the capital Bujumbura, are charged
with an "attempted coup and calling for a popular
uprising, killing soldiers, policemen and civilians, and
the malicious destruction of buildings," the
prosecutor Adolphe Manirakiza said.
The prisoners, all senior military and police officials,
told the court they were being held in tiny cells in
"inhumane and degrading" conditions.
They face possible life imprisonment if found guilty.
Defence lawyer Onesime Kabayabaya said the trial
should be stopped.
"We requested the postponement of the trial because
the conditions for a fair trial are not met," he said,
saying he had not had "sufficient access to the case
file", also noting the "disgraceful conditions in which
our clients are imprisoned."
Months of street protests in Burundi have devolved
into regular armed attacks with gunfire disrupting the
nights and dead bodies appearing on city streets
almost every day.
Hundreds of people have been killed, including at
least 87 on Friday when armed rebels attacked three
military installations in Bujumbura.
Attacks targeting the security forces have escalated,
with rebels armed with assault rifles, rocket-
propelled grenades and mortars attacking police
convoys and targeting government installations.