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Corruption campaigners sue three African leaders

Article published on the 2008-12-03 Latest update 2008-12-03 16:08 TU

Omar Bongo.(Photo:  AFP)

Omar Bongo.
(Photo: AFP)

French anti-corruption activists filed a civil lawsuit against the presidents of Gabon, The Republic of Congo and Equatorial Guinea Tuesday, accusing them of using stolen public money to purchase millions-of-euros-worth of luxury property in France.

“Our objective is not directly to get people to be condemned. Our objective is to make effective [a] very important principle of international law and French law: the recovery and restitution of stolen public assets,” Daniel Lebegue of Transparency International, told RFI.

Transparency International, along with French NGO Sherpa and a Gabonese citizen, took action against President Omar Bongo Ondimba of Gabon, Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of Congo and Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea, as well as several other officials, they said in a joint statement.

Two similar suits filed against him Bongo Transparency against Bongo were earlier dismissed due to lack of evidence. The initial lawsuits also named President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso and President Eduardo dos Santos of Angola.

Following the initial investigations, the police reported that Bongo and his family own 33 properties in France, including a building in Paris bought for 18.8 million euros. Sassou Nguesso owns at least three properties in the French capital.

The origin of the funds used to buy these estates was never established due to lack of proper warrants, the French press reported. This new case is intended to put pressure on French authorities to appoint an investigating magistrate who would be able to take the investigation further.