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Suspects in arms depot raid claim torture, humiliation

Twenty Burkinabe soldiers claim torture after being held for a failed raid on an arms depot last year.

About 20 Burkinabe soldiers on trial at a military tribunal over a failed raid on an arms depot last year have said they were tortured to extract their confessions.

Almost all of them said they had suffered beatings, humiliation and food deprivation at the police camp where they were held after their arrest following the raid in January 2016, for which they have been on trial since Tuesday.

"When I was arrested on January 25, 2016, I was abused by police officers from 2:00pm to 4:00pm," Sergeant Ollo Stanislas Poda said on Saturday.

"I was beaten with a wet rope, threatened with an [automatic pistol], handcuffed and suspended from a table to make me talk."

READ MORE: Burkina Faso arrests ex-presidential guards over raid

Like him, most of the soldiers being prosecuted for "military conspiracy" said they had been physically abused and subjected to inhumane treatment.

"If you arrest someone like my client on January 21, 2016, and eventually it is on March 16 - 52 days later - that you present him to an investigating judge and in the meantime he was detained, we are posing the question about what has been done to him during all this time," said Issouf Kabre, lawyer for soldier Kam Ollo Bienvenu.

The soldiers, including about 10 members of the former elite presidential guard (RSP) of ousted leader Blaise Compaore, are also accused of "removing military equipment by breaking and entering" at the arms depot in Yimdi, near the capital, Ouagadougou.

The arms were allegedly to be used to attack Ouagadougou military prison to release former RSP head General Gilbert Diendere and other soldiers jailed for their alleged involvement in a failed coup in September 2015.

The coup bid was thwarted by street protesters and support from the army, which attacked the plotters' barracks.

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