Article published on the 2008-07-11 Latest update 2008-07-11 15:51 TU
The five are Gabon's Omar Bongo, Congo's Denis Sassou Nguesso, Burkina-Faso's Blaise Compaoré, Angola's Eduardo Dos Santos, Equatorial Guinea's Teodoro Obiang Nguema.
Clockwise from top right: Gabon's Omar Bongo, Congo's Denis Sassou Nguesso, Burkina-Faso's Blaise Compaoré, Angola's Eduardo Dos Santos, Equatorial Guinea's Teodoro Obiang Nguema.
(Photos: AFP / Montage RFI)
Similar charges were brought last year by other NGOs but the subsequent enquiry into the leaders' assets was dropped afetr five months.
Transparency International's case refers to that enquiry.
RFI has been told that police have listed 17 properties and 11 bank accounts in France in Bongo's name and about 15 villas and apartments listed as belonging to Sassou Nguesso and his family. But they seem not to have gathered much information on the Burkanabé and Angolan leaders.
Lawyers for Bongo and Sassou Nguesso point out that the first enquiry did not lead to a trial. They say that owning property is not against the law and that the French authorities have no business judging the management of another country's finances.
"Over a year ago, the first case was the subject of an enquiry by the financial brigade [of the French police], the most competent body in the financial questions in the country," said Bongo's lawyer, Patrick Maisonneuve. "It concluded that no crime had been committed."
But Transparency International's Daniel Lebegue says that the case has a "very solid legal basis", based on 24 police reports.
"The assets we are speaking about are large properties in Paris, in Ile de France, in Côte d’Azur worth huge amounts of money, ten million euros - in some cases far more,' he told RFI.
11/07/2008 by William Niba
2008-07-09 10:44 TU
2008-07-08 12:09 TU