'Mastermind' of plot against Benin leader arrested in Paris
Patrice Talon, a businessman alleged to be the mastermind of a plot to poison Benin President Thomas Boni Yayi, has been arrested in Paris following an extradition request from the West African state, his lawyer said on Thursday.
Talon was arrested on Wednesday and required to hand over his passport to the French authorities, his French lawyer William Bourdon told AFP. He has since been released but must report regularly to the authorities.
The lawyer said he was confident Benin's request for extradition would not be accepted.
"Nobody can doubt the act that this procedure is based on persecution and political manipulation," Bourdon said.
"Patrice Talon cannot be extradited to Benin where the threat to his physical safety is obvious. It is a completely fabricated case."
Benin has 15 days to provide documents backing up its request and a Paris Appeal Court must consider it within three months.
Talon, a former close associate of the president, was named at the end of October as the instigator of the alleged plot.
Four other people have already been charged, including the president's niece and his personal doctor.
Prosecutors in Benin claim that Talon approached the niece, Zouberath Kora-Seke and the doctor, Ibrahim Mama Cisse, during a visit to Brussels in October and offered them 1.5 million euros if they could get the president to take fatal drugs instead of his usual painkillers.
Kora-Seke reportedly raised the alarm and the president was informed about the alleged conspiracy.
A friend of Talon's, Olivier Bocco, is also subject to an international arrest warrant issued by Benin in connection with the alleged attempted murder.
© 2012 AFP