Article published on the 2009-10-29 Latest update 2009-10-29 15:51 TU
The President of Equatorial Guinea Teodoro Obiang, the President of Congo Denis Sassou Nguesso and deceased former Gabon President Omar Bongo
(Photo : AFP)
The case was dropped after the Paris appeals court ruled that the non-governmental organisation Transparency International could not itself bring a complaint against three African heads of state.
Transparency International, which specialises in the fight against corruption, filed a suit in December 2008 questioning the manner in which the three heads of state - Gabon’s decreased President Omar Bongo, Congo’s Denis Sassou Nguesso and Equatorial Guinea's Theodore Obiang - had acquired over 160 millions euros worth of real estate in France. It had alleged that the money was paid for with embezzled public funds.
In May, a French judge agreed to hear the case, but on Thursday the court of appeal rejected the investigation, saying that Transparency International had no judicial interest in the case since it had not been affected directly.
"Today it's champagne all round for the gang of Franco-African crooks that organise and profit from the looting of African public funds," said Transparency International's lawyer William Bourdon.
However, Patrick Maisonneuve, lawyer for the Bongo family, welcomed the decision. “We cannot allow any old association to talk on behalf of the citizens of these countries,” he said.
Obiang's lawyer Olivier Pardo also welcomed the court's ruling, which he said "showed that the manipulation of French justice had not worked". He also said he would pursue Transparency International for slander.
The French government had resisted calls to investigate Transparency International's claims.
2009-06-08 18:30 TU