Central African Republic: The Emperor Has No Clothes

The Emperor Has No Clothes

When deposed Emperor Bokassa I returned to the Central African Republic from Europe last October after seven years in exile, he apparently expected to be hailed as a conquering hero. Instead, he was promptly tried on some of the same charges for which he had been convicted in absentia and sentenced to death in 1980: murder, embezzlement and other crimes committed during his heinous 14-year rule.

Day after day, the country listened in amazement to the court proceedings on the radio. By the end, says a Western diplomat, the former emperor had been "demythologized" in the eyes of his countrymen. Last...