BANGUI, Central African Republic — Jean-Bedel Bokassa, the former dictator who proclaimed himself emperor, will be tried soon on charges of treason, murder and cannibalism, President Andre Kolingba said Friday.
Bokassa left French exile voluntarily and in secret Oct. 22 and flew to Bangui, where he was arrested immediately.
He was tried in absentia and sentenced to death in 1980, a year after his ouster in a French-backed coup. A law still on the books from French colonial days requires that a person convicted in his absence be tried again when he is captured.
At a public meeting to mark the proclamation of a new constitution, Kolingba said: "Bokassa obviously intended to create upheaval in the country. His return has failed, and he will be tried soon and in public. It is perhaps best that he is in Bangui, because this is a problem which must be settled with the least possible delay so that we can definitely bury the past."
Bokassa's French lawyer, Francis Szpiner, revealed in Paris on Thursday that the Bokassa family had asked that he handle the former dictator's defense.