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Former Madagascar PM Sentenced to Hard Labor - 2003-12-24


A court in Madagascar has sentenced former prime minister Tantely Andrianarivo to 12 years of hard labor after convicting him on charges of embezzlement and endangering state security.

Andrianarivo was sentenced late Tuesday following a two day trial. He was also fined at least $7 million in damages. His lawyer says the former prime minister will appeal the sentence.

He was accused of economic sabotage following Madagascar's contested 2002 elections.

Last week, Amnesty International said it was concerned Andrianarivo would not receive a fair trial because his lawyers were not given enough time to prepare his case. Amnesty also said the former prime minister was recently taken to a hospital, suffering from ill-health and exhaustion.

Andrianarivo served with President Didier Ratsiraka, who was sentenced in August by a Madagascar court to 10 years of hard labor for embezzling public funds.

Mr. Ratsiraka, who lives in exile in France, left Madagascar following a seven-month standoff with current President Marc Ravalomanana over a disputed presidential election.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.