UN court has ju­ris­dic­tion in Equa­to­rial Guineafrance spat

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - World -

A UNITED Na­tions court ruled Wed­nes­day that it has ju­ris­dic­tion over a dis­pute be­tween France and Equa­to­rial Guinea that cen­ters on whether a man­sion on a swanky Paris av­enue is a diplo­matic out­post for the Cen­tral African na­tion.

An­other court in Paris last year or­dered the man­sion con­fis­cated, along with a stash of sports cars and designer clothes, as it con­victed the son of Equa­to­rial Guinea’s pres­i­dent, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, of embezzling millions of dol­lars in public money. It handed him a three-year sus­pended prison sen­tence. He has ap­pealed.

The new rul­ing by the UN’S In­ter­na­tional Court of Jus­tice means its judges will now rule on whether France breached a treaty gov­ern­ing diplo­matic re­la­tions with the con­fis­ca­tion or­der.

The Paris court has said it can­not carry out the or­der un­til the ICJ case is com­pleted, a process likely to take months.

Un­der­scor­ing an ear­lier pre­lim­i­nary rul­ing in the case, the ICJ said it does not have ju­ris­dic­tion over Equa­to­rial Guinea’s claim that Obiang, the coun­try’s sec­ond vice pres­i­dent, has diplo­matic im­mu­nity, which could have shielded him from pros­e­cu­tion.

French pros­e­cu­tors say Obiang used the em­bez­zled money to stay in Parisian palaces and later pur­chased the Av­enue Foch man­sion. The de­fense said the man­sion serves as Equa­to­rial Guinea’s em­bassy.

Ac­cord­ing to Paris court doc­u­ments, Obiang bought up to 15 cars in France for 5.7 mil­lion eu­ros ($6.7 mil­lion) and once splashed nearly 20 mil­lion eu­ros at an art auc­tion. A gov­erness and oth­ers em­ployed by him in Paris told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that their boss came to France with suit­cases full of cash and paid mainly in cash for lux­ury goods.

The case high­lighted the wel­l­known cor­rup­tion and mis­man­age­ment of the econ­omy in oil-rich Equa­to­rial Guinea and the dra­matic gap be­tween the priv­i­leged rul­ing class and much of its pop­u­la­tion.

The for­mer Span­ish colony is run by Africa’s longest-serv­ing pres­i­dent, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mba­sogo.

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