Togo charges opposition figures over market fire
LAGOS (AFP) - Three members of an opposition coalition in Togo have been charged in connection with a series of fires that razed two markets in the west African country last month, their lawyer told AFP Wednesday.
"Zeus Ajavon, Jil Benoit Afangbedji et Raphael Kpande-Adzare were charged on Tuesday for 'complicity in the destruction of public assets and for associating with criminals," said lawyer Dodji Apevon, adding that they were not being held in custody.
Ajavon is the coordinator of Let's Save Togo, a group that has staged a series of protest in recent months against President Faure Gnassingbe's government.
Demonstrators have clashed with security forces on several occasions.
The main market in the capital Lome and a market in Kara in the north of the country were heavily damaged by the fires that caused no casualties but destroyed significant property.
The government has said "criminal acts" led to the fires, with an official estimate putting the losses at six billion Togolese francs, ($11.7 million, nine million euros).
Twenty-four people, including several opposition members, were arrested in the aftermath of the blazes, although ex-prime minister, Agbeyome Kodjo, now a key opposition leader was released on Monday.
Togo has been ruled by the same family for last four decades. The president's father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, led the country for 38 years with an iron fist until his death in 2005 after which the military installed his son.