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Burkina Faso Coup Plotter Admits Receiving Aid from Ivory Coast Military - 2004-04-08

An officer of Burkina Faso's army, who is on trial for allegedly masterminding a failed coup attempt, has testified he received financial aid from Ivory Coast.

Army captain Luther Ouali testified before the special military court in the capital Ouagadougou that he received almost $100,000 from an Ivorian colonel, Raphael Logbo in 2002.

Captain Ouali, along with 12 others, is being tried for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government of President Blaise Compaore last year. The prosecution is alleging Captain Ouali received financial and logistical support from Ivory Coast's military.

The Ivorian officer, Colonel Logbo, said he knew the defendant from school, but denied giving him any money.

Ivory Coast's president, Laurent Gbagbo, also denied that his ruling party gave any assistance to the alleged Burkinabe plotters, and, in turn, accused the government of Burkina Faso of giving aid to Ivorian rebels, now in control of the north of the country.

A regional analyst with the British-based Royal Institute of International Affairs, Alex Vines, says the Ivorian rebels did receive military support.

"These sorts of things are very kind of cloudy on who is really behind them and what occurs," he said. "There is certainly clear evidence that the northern rebels in Cote d'Ivoire have enjoyed military support that has passed through Burkina."

He said relations between Burkina Faso and neighboring Ivory Coast and Togo are already poor, and evidence that the governments are undermining one another will only increase tensions in the region.

In Ivory Coast, a spokesman for the northern rebels, Sidiki Konate, denied receiving any support from Burkina Faso. But he said President Gbagbo did give assistance to the accused coup plotters in Burkina Faso.

"He tried to put down this government in Burkina Faso," said Sidiki Konate. "I think, this is the new information, but if Gbagbo says we received money from, or help from Burkina Faso, I think it is not serious."

Captain Ouali, who is the only one of the 13 defendants who is charged with treason, faces the death penalty if convicted. The remaining 12 could receive jail sentences of up to 20 years.