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Equatorial Guinea Mass Trial Ends

June 2, 1998

MADRID, Spain (AP) _ A military court sentenced 15 people to death for sedition in Equatorial Guinea on Monday, ending a mass trial of more than 100 people, according to Spanish news reports.

The sentences in the tiny west-central African country were announced in Madrid by representatives of the opposition to President Teodoro Obiang, Spanish national radio said.

The charges stemmed from a January attack on a military barracks on the Guinean island of Bioko _ the home of most of the ethnic Bubi minority.

About 500 people, mostly Bubi, were arrested in the military crackdown that followed the attack, which left four soldiers and one civilian dead.

Reports out of the African nation did not provide further details of the sedition charges.

The opposition also said that the remaining defendants in the former Spanish colony had received jail sentences of between six and 24 years, according to the radio report. Many of the condemned belong to the Bioko Autonomy Movement, an outlawed political group that strongly opposes Obiang.

The London-based human rights group Amnesty International, along with several European countries and the United States, has long accused Obiang’s government of human rights violations.

Spanish journalists covering the trial were asked to leave the country last Friday after they reported that some of the accused had been tortured. A precise figure for the number of those tried could not be obtained.

Obiang seized power in the oil-rich country wedged between Cameroon and Gabon in 1979 by overthrowing his uncle Francisco Macias Nguema.

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