Two Equatorial Guinea soldiers were handed lengthy prison sentences after being found guilty of homicide and negligence over a huge explosion at a military camp that killed 107 people, the state broadcaster announced Saturday.
The military court in Bata, the economic capital of the small central west African nation, on Friday jailed Lieutenant-Colonel Valentin Nzang Ega, the head of the camp, for 35 years and handed Corporal Jose Antonio Obama Nsue a 50-year prison sentence, state channel TVGE reported.
Stocks of explosives in the camp accidentally detonated on March 7 obliterating neighbouring residential areas, killing 107 people and injuring 615 others on the outskirts of economic capital Bata.
It is believed the explosions came after slash-and-burn land clearance fires spread out of control and reached the camp’s armoury.
The defence ministry had said that three powerful blasts from heavy-calibre munitions, several minutes apart, caused “shock waves which totally destroyed numerous homes nearby”.
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who has ruled with an iron fist for 42 years, blamed the military for “negligence” in stocking ammunition so close to residential areas.
The two men were also ordered to pay 10 million CFA francs (around $18,000) to the family of each victim.
Such military court verdicts are not open to appeal.
Bata is home to 800,000 of the country’s 1.4 million people, most of whom live in poverty despite the country’s oil and gas wealth.