A trial that has made headlines reached its verdict this week, three years after the murder of Colonel Bitala Madjoulba, the commander of the 1st Rapid Intervention Battalion. He was found dead in his office the day after President Faure Gnassingbé’s inauguration, and Madjoulba was part of the president’s inner circle.
Five military personnel were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 5 to 20 years. The heaviest sentence was handed down to General Abalo Kadangha, who served as Chief of the General Staff from 2013 to 2020. Two accused individuals were acquitted.
Atcholi Kao Monzolouwe, president of the Association of Victims of Torture in Togo (ASVITTO), described the trial as unique due to the jurisdiction and professional status of the accused. However, he emphasized that the trial did not fully shed light on the case.
“This is the first time a military court has operated in Togo with a general officer at the bar who was the chief of the general staff at the time of the events. Then, it is worth noting that some military personnel were acquitted at the end of this trial and allowed to rejoin the ranks of the army. This is also a positive development that sets a precedent to correct many judicial errors that have caused harm to several military personnel in the past. However, regarding the case itself, both national and international opinion remain unsatisfied. The judges were unable to conduct thorough investigations to uncover the true perpetrators and reasons behind this crime.”