The Foreign Ministry confirmed reports in Madagascar according to which an Israeli citizen was arrested in the African country for allegedly taking part in the killing of protesters during a revolt which overthrew former President Marc Ravalomanana some three years ago.
According to the reports, Yosef Akiva, 60, headed a group referred to by local police and the general public as "mercenaries." Some of the group's members were spotted at the presidential palace on February 7, 2009 - the day tens of thousands of anti-regime protesters marched toward the palace. Security forces shot some 30 protesters dead.
Ynet reported that Akiva, a resident of Netanya, left Israel about a week ago.
The Guardian reported Sunday that Ravalomanana has tried to end his exile in South Africa but his commercial plane was forced to turn back mid-flight when the landing was blocked by Andry Rajoelina, the populist former disc jockey who toppled him with the military's support.
Thousands of Ravalomanana supporters awaited his return at the capital's airport on Saturday, the British newspaper reported. Marc has been exiled from the Indian Ocean island since 2009.
According to the Guardian, following Rajoelina's coup, Ravalomanana was convicted in absentia of conspiracy to commit murder in a case related to the turmoil during the overthrow that forced him to leave. Security officials in Madagascar have said the toppled president will be arrested if he returns.
Ravalomanana tried to return last year but was stopped at the Johannesburg airport after aviation authorities in Madagascar wrote to say he was not welcome, said the British daily.
Local online newspaper La Gazette de la Grande Isle reported over the weekend that authorities fear that Ravalomanana had sent spies to Madagascar.
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