By Johannes Myburgh (AFP) – Aug 5, 2012
JOHANNESBURG — South African prosecutors are investigating Madagascar's ousted president Marc Ravalomanana for crimes against humanity, a spokeswoman said Sunday.
"Evidence has been brought to the attention of the Priority Crimes Litigation Unit (PCLU) of the NPS (National Prosecuting Authority) and there's reasonable suspicion that crimes against humanity may have been committted," communications head Bulelwa Makeke told AFP.
Ravalomana hit back at the allegations, saying it was a political ploy to deter him from talks with Madagascar's interim leader Andry Rajoelina this week.
"Strangely enough why do we have it now," said his spokeswoman Brylyne Chitsunge.
"People interested in seeing the government not going back to normality are doing it," Chitsunge told AFP.
"It's not something we're going to take seriously."
The Association of Martyrs of Antananarivo Merina Square, a Malagasy group, laid a complaint with the NPA four months ago through South African lawyers, according to a report in the Sunday Times newspaper.
It submitted a 100-page file of affidavits by alleged victims, video footage and international reports on events in Madagascar before Ravalomanana was ousted, according to the newspaper.
These include victims of 2009 unrest that forced him from power.
He already faces life in prison back home after being sentenced in absentia for the killing of demonstrators by his presidential guard during protests that led to his overthrow in 2009. Thirty-six people were killed and hundreds wounded.
A 26-year-old mother of two claimed in an affidavit that she had lost her left eye and nose after she was shot in the face outside his presidential palace, according to the newspaper.
"Presently I cannot see and have difficulty breathing," she said.
In July victims of the 2009 unrest filed a $23 million lawsuit against Ravalomanana in a South African court.
The former leader has been exiled in South Africa since 2009.
He was not afraid of the South African investigation against him, said Chitsunge.
"He's not afraid of being tried because he's not guilty," she said. "Perhaps he'll even get a fairer trial than what happened in Madagascar."
The Indian Ocean island of Madagascar has been mired in political crisis since Rajoelina overthrew Ravalomanana's government in March 2009 with the army's support.
Rajoelina and Ravalomanana last year signed a "roadmap" toward elections, that will be held in May next year.
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