CONAKRY Five people were sentenced to life in prison on Saturday for their role in a failed assassination attempt on Guinean President Alpha Conde two years ago, ending a trial opposition figures say has been at least partly politically motivated.
A military officer and a senior opposition politician were among those convicted of plotting the July 2011 attack, which left Conde unscathed but two bodyguards dead and several others injured, underscoring Guinea's fragile transition to democracy after a 2008 coup and decades of misrule.
Alpha Oumar Boffa Diallo, a member of previous president Lansana Conte's personal guard had trained generations of Guinean soldiers and continues to deny he had any role in the attack.
Mamadou Oury Bah, the founder of the UFDG political party which spearheads opposition to Conde, was also amongst those convicted but he was tried in absentia as he is living in exile in France. He also denies the charges.
Two other accused were also absent from the trial, which has lasted six months and divided political opinion in Guinea, with some opposition figures suggesting the incident had been manipulated for political means.
Conde and his domestic rivals have just agreed on a date for legislative elections, ending months of political rows and street battles that have killed about 50 people and injured hundreds more.
The vote is intended to put an end to the political instability that has eaten into post-coup optimism that saw mining firms pledge multi-billion dollar deals in a country rich in iron ore, bauxite, gold and other minerals.
(Reporting by Saliou Samb; Writing by David Lewis; editing by Patrick Graham)