Son of Nigerian dictator absent at Swiss appeal hearing

10th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

The son of the late Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha was absent Monday at the opening of an appeal hearing in a Geneva court relating to his sentence to return 350 million dollars pillaged from Nigeria.

A Geneva magistrate convicted Abba Abacha, 41, in November of participating in a criminal organisation, handed down a suspended prison term and ordered he surrender 350 million dollars (275 million euros) in illegally obtained assets.

Under the Swiss legal system, the appeal brings the case to a court.

Abacha's lawyer, Pierre de Preux, told the court Monday that his client was unable to attend the hearing because he had filed his application for a visa too late.

The hearing is set to resume Tuesday despite the lawyer's request for a postponement.

Nigeria sent Switzerland a request in 1999, the year after Sani Abacha died, to help it recover some 2.2 billion dollars that the dictator is suspected of having siphoned off from the country's central bank during his rule from 1993 to 1998.

Some 700 million dollars which was stashed in Swiss banks has been returned by Switzerland to Nigerian authorities.

© 2010 AFP

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