Jean-Bedel Bokassa, 75, one of Africa's most ruthless...


November 05, 1996

Jean-Bedel Bokassa, 75, one of Africa's most ruthless dictators who was accused of slaughtering and eating some of his critics, died of a heart attack Sunday in Bangui, Central African Republic.

Mr. Bokassa, who ruled as self-proclaimed "emperor" from 1966 until 1979, had been in poor health since collapsing in 1995 from a brain hemorrhage.

The army lieutenant colonel's 13-year rule began when he seized power in 1966, six years after the country gained independence from France.

He used the country's resources to increase his fortune while the living standard of his 3.4 million subjects stagnated. He was ousted by French troops in 1979 after 100 children were killed for complaining about their school uniforms. After years in exile, he was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 1987. The sentence was commuted to 20 years in prison, and he was freed in September 1993.

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