UN court to hear Equatorial Guinea case against France

2016-10-07 14:23
Teodorin Obiang (File: AFP)

Teodorin Obiang (File: AFP)

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The Hague - The UN's top court said on Thursday it will hold hearings into a request by Equatorial Guinea that France be ordered to suspend the trial of the president's son.

"The International Court of Justice will hold public hearings in the case ... from Monday 17 to Wednesday 19 October," the tribunal said in a statement.

The hearings will take place in The Hague only a few days before Equatorial Guinea's vice-president Teodorin Obiang - the son of the country's leader - is due to appear before a court in France.

Paris accuses him of embezzlement, and of the misuse of public funds, by plundering his country's coffers to fund his jet-set lifestyle. Obiang has been summoned to appear on October 24 at a Paris court.

Among Obiang's alleged purchases are the famous white glove of pop star Michael Jackson's, private jets and sprawling properties.

Diplomatic immunity 

In 2012 French prosecutors ordered the seizure of the Obiang family's six-storey mansion on Avenue Foch - one of the poshest addresses in Paris - as well as several luxury cars and vintage wines.

But the African nation has already filed a case before the ICJ in The Hague in June, maintaining that Obiang has diplomatic immunity.

It has now argued that Obiang's case cannot proceed in French courts until the ICJ has ruled on whether France breached his right to immunity.

And last week it filed an urgent request for the ICJ to order a suspension of the French legal proceedings.

Obiang's father, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who has ruled the country with an iron fist since 1979, is Africa's longest-serving leader, and extended his 36-year rule in April when he was re-elected with 93.7% of the vote.

In its main filing, the Equatorial Guinea has urged the ICJ to "declare that the French Republic has breached its obligation to respect the principles of the sovereign equality of states".

The ICJ has given both Equatorial Guinea and France until next year to file its responses to the court.

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