Prison sentence in absentia for Benin businessman on drugs charge


Prominent Benin businessman and former presidential candidate Sebastien Ajavon was sentenced in absentia to 20 years in prison in connection with a haul of 18 kg of cocaine found in a shipping container in 2016.

Charges were dropped in 2016 against Ajavon, who ran for president that year and currently lives in France. The charges were later taken up by a different court.

Ajavon long denied charges of drug trafficking, dismissing them as a political hit job by President Patrice Talon, who defeated him in the 2016 election.

Ajavon’s legal team on Thursday described the ruling as a “premeditated decision” it said it would fight in court.

Maritime police discovered the haul at the port of Cotonou in a container destined for one of Ajavon’s companies.

West Africa has for over a decade been a transit point for Latin American cocaine bound for Europe. Improved maritime policing has helped reduce the volume of cocaine passing through the region.