Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

African Dictator Accused of Cannibalism Is Freed

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

African Dictator Accused of Cannibalism Is Freed

Article excerpt

Self-proclaimed Emperor Jean-Bedel Bokassa, accused of cannibalism and slaughtering schoolchildren, walked out of prison Wednesday a free man along with all the nation's other criminals.

The outgoing military dictator, Gen. Andre Kolingba, ordered freedom for all inmates in the nation's 20 prisons as an act of clemency marking his 12 years in power.

More than 3,000 people cheered Bokassa, 72, as he left his cell at a military barracks on the grounds of the presidential Renaissance Palace.

"Victory to Bokassa!" they shouted. "Bokassa for president!"

Infamous for his brutality and greed, Bokassa told his supporters that he had "found God in prison."

Opposition leader Abel Goumba charged that Kolingba was unleashing the criminals to punish Central Africans for trouncing him in elections on Aug. 22.

"It is an act of vengeance against all those who want to install democracy in this country," Goumba said.

Bokassa was a colonel when he seized power in a coup in 1965. …

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