Seven suspects appeared in court in Bissau on Thursday in a 980kg drug seizure case, almost all of which has disappeared since the major bust in November, according to the director of the judicial police.

“Last November, 980 kg were seized by the police, but 975 kg have simply disappeared into thin air. It is presumed that it was elements of the security and defence forces who seized this quantity of cocaine,” Domingos Monteiro, the director of the judicial police, told the press on Thursday. A police officer was arrested and implicated in the case.

At the same time, a judicial source said, a total of nine suspects were due to appear on Thursday in the seizure case, but only seven of them were present in the trial. The fate of the other two suspects had not been made clear on Thursday by a judicial source.

Instability and poverty have encouraged drug traffickers in the former Portuguese colony in West Africa, who are protected by senior military officers. In September 2019, a record seizure of around two tonnes of cocaine took place in the north of the country. Twelve suspects, three Colombians, one Mexican, one Malian, and seven Bissau-Guineans were arrested.

Guinea-Bissau was the scene on 1 February of the umpteenth coup in its troubled history since independence from Portugal in 1974. The Palace of Government, the seat of the ministries, was attacked that day by armed men while the president and members of the government were holding a council of ministers.

The president emerged unharmed after hours of gunfire that left 11 people dead, according to the government.