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Togo: President's Brother Treated Humanely Following Arrest

Authorities in Togo say the president's brother is being well treated during his detention in connection with an alleged plot to take power in a military coup.

Togo's Chief Prosecutor Robert Bakai says Kpatcha Gnassingbe is being treated humanely following his arrest on a warrant that says he is one of the principal organizers of a plot to take power while his brother was on a trip to China.

Bakai says the government is not saying Kpathca Gnassingbe is guilty because under Togolese law, he enjoys the presumption of innocence.

The prosecutor told reporters that he knows everyone is wondering what has happened to the former defense minister since his arrest. Bakai says because Kpatcha Gnassingbe is a respected citizens who has served the nation, he is being detained in an acceptable place where he is being well treated.

The president's brother was arrested as he left the U.S. Embassy in Lome Wednesday morning after being denied refuge there.

American officials in Togo say there are very few cases in which individuals are granted refuge at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, and after reviewing Kpatcha Gnassingbe's case, the embassy determined that it "was not appropriate to offer him refuge at this time." Embassy officials encouraged Togolese authorities to respect his right to due process.

Kpatcha Gnassingbe says he is the victim of an assassination attempt by security forces who came to his compound Sunday night after his brother, President Faure Gnassingbe, canceled a trip to China when the security services of a foreign country warned that an attack against him was imminent.

When security forces arrived at Kpatcha Gnassingbe's home Sunday, Gendarmarie Commandant Kodjo Amana says they were attacked by bodyguards and troops loyal to the former defense minister.

Amana showed reporters weapons that he says were taken from Kpatcha Gnassingbe's compound after a three-hour fire-fight in the Lome suburbs that he describes as "intense combat." The weapons displayed included pistols with silencers, rifles, and ammunition. Amana says weapons were also recovered from Kpatcha Gnassingbe's vehicle after he was arrested outside the U.S. Embassy.

Kpatcha Gnassingbe is a member of parliament for the northern Kara District, and as such, the U.S. embassy says it understands that he is protected by immunity under Togolese law. But embassy officials say they recognize this is a domestic matter for deliberation by Togolese legislative and judicial authorities.

Selom Klassou is the first vice president of Togo's National Assembly.

Klassou says that after being informed by the prosecutor of the charges against Kpatcha Gnassingbe, the National Assembly recognizes that he has committed a flagrantly illegal act. Klassou says the legislature will help the judiciary determine the truth of the charges and urges prosecutor Bakai to proceed calmly and with scrupulous respect for fundamental constitutional rights.

Klassou says the National Assembly appeals to all parliamentarians and the general population to remain calm as the investigation continues.

Kpatcha Gnassingbe remains an influential member of the ruling Togolese People's Party. He was elected to parliament in 2007 after his brother sacked him as defense minister.

President Faure Gnassingbe took power in 2005 following the death of his father, the long-time Togolese leader Gnassingbe Eyadema. Following international criticism of his seizing power, Faure Gnassingbe briefly stepped down to contest an election that observers say was seriously flawed. The president is expected to run for re-election next year.