2 Dec 2010

Dictator given posthumous pardon

12:50 pm on 2 December 2010

One of Africa's most notorious dictators, the late Jean-Bedel Bokassa, has been given a posthumous pardon, 14 years after his death.

He was the self-styled Emperor of the Central African Republic until he was overthrown in a coup in 1979 after 14 years in power. The BBC reports he died in 1996.

He was variously accused of being a cannibal and feeding opponents to lions and crocodiles in his personal zoo. He named himself emperor in 1976.

As the Central African Republic prepares to mark 50 years of independence, it was announced on Wednesday that Bokassa was being "formally rehabilitated".

President Francois Bozize, who himself seized power in a coup in 2003, said his former boss had "given a great deal for humanity".

Bokassa was "a son of the nation recognised by all as a great builder", Mr Bozize said.

"He built the country but we have destroyed what he built," the president added as he awarded Bokassa's widow, Catherine, a state medal of honour.