The government of Niger has commenced the trials behind closed doors of about 1,000 suspected militants from the Boko Haram jihadist movement, officials said Friday, March 10, 2017.
Speaking with AFP, Chief prosecutor Chaibou Samna said that the trials, on charges of terrorist links, had begun since on March 2.
According to him, those facing trial are from several countries including Niger and Mali, as well as neighbouring Nigeria where Boko Haram’s deadly insurgency began in 2009 before spreading abroad.
Some of the suspects were “captured during combat” in southern Niger across the border from Boko Haram’s stronghold in Nigeria, a security source said.
Samna said the trials will last several months and mostly arise from offences entailing “not more than 10 years in prison”.
“There have already been convictions and a large number of people freed for lack of evidence,” he added.
“The government has provided the means to transport prosecutors to investigate on the ground” in the Diffa region, close to territory in northeast Nigeria that is the bastion of the armed fundamentalist movement, Samna said.
The government announced in December that it would speed up legal proceedings against suspected Boko Haram fighters in prison for more than a year.
About 1,200 people suspected of close ties to the group have been detained awaiting trial since 2015, according to a source in the security forces.
Some were captured in combat or during identity checks carried out under the state of emergency imposed in the Diffa region on the Nigerian border, the source said.