Paris, 20 March 2014, Sherpa.
Mr. Teodorin Obiang Nguema, Vice-President of Equatorial Guinea, has been placed under formal investigation for money-laundering in the Biens Mal Acquis (“ill-gotten gains”) case by investigating judges from a Paris court (the Tribunal de Grande Instance) on Wednesday 19th March 2014.
This is an essential step as it provides for the opening of a trial before Parisian courts, even though the investigation concerning the allegations against Mr. Obiang is almost over.
Sherpa and Transparency International France stress that Mr. Obiang was given an opportunity to provide information to the judges in an interview via video conference that took place immediately before the indictment. Mr. Obiang chose not to provide any information.
The adversarial principle of the proceedings, notably the guarantee that each party to the trial will be granted a hearing, strengthens the proceedings and makes the trial more legitimate. But by holding the judges in disregard and by claiming an immunity of convenience that has been rejected by France’s Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, the accused has gained what he was looking for: the recovery of his freedom of movement.
Sherpa and Transparency International France recall that this indictment occurs after a series of decisions taken by the Investigative Chamber of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. These institutions have both rejected all of Mr. Obiang’s obviously dilatory appeals, notably aimed at cancelling the arrest warrant that was issued against him.
Our organisations trust that the Parisian courts will reject the appeals that have since been rapidly announced by Mr. Obiang’s defense team, in a perfect example of his defensive strategy since the very beginning of legal proceedings.
Teodorin Obiang Nguema continues to show disregard for French judges and to lodge multiple libel complaints. Considering the weight of the charges levelled against him, his strategy of presenting himself as a victim will not last for long during the trial.
Me William Bourdon
Lawyer for Transparency International France and President of Sherpa
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Head of Sherpa
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Transparency International France
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