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Guinea-Bissau says ex-army chief safe from US drugs, arms charges

Guinea-Bissau on Monday ruled out any extradition of the West African nation’s former military chief, wanted by the United States on charges of drugs and weapons trafficking connected to Columbia’s FARC.

Guinea-Bissau's then army chief of staff General Antonio Indjai, who is wanted by the United States, in May 2014
Guinea-Bissau’s then army chief of staff General Antonio Indjai, who is wanted by the United States, in May 2014

The US State Department last week offered a reward of $5 million (4.3 million euros) for information leading to the arrest or conviction of General Antonio Indjai.

But speaking to reporters before an official visit to Brazil, President Umaro Sissoco Embalo rejected the charges as “only valid in the United States of America”.

“No Guinean citizen will be brought to justice in another country,” he said, adding that the general, who lives in Guinea-Bissau, “can move around as he pleases”.

Indjai has been the subject of a United Nations travel ban since May 2012, after he staged a coup, the State Department said in last week’s “reward poster”.

Indjai headed a criminal organisation involved in drug trafficking in Guinea-Bissau — an important transhipment hub for narcotics — and the region for many years, “even while serving as head of the Guinea-Bissau Armed Forces” it said.

It described the general as “one of the most powerful destabilising figures in Guinea-Bissau, operating freely throughout West Africa, using illegal proceeds to corrupt and destabilise other foreign governments”.

Following a Drug Enforcement Agency sting operation, US prosecutors charged him in 2013 with agreeing to stockpile tons of cocaine for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the sale of which financed the purchase of arms for the guerrillas and bribes to officials in Guinea-Bissau. AFP