French prosecutors back warrant for E. Guinea leader's son

11th April 2012, Comments 0 comments

French prosecutors have called for an international arrest warrant to be issued for the son of Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, judicial sources said Wednesday.

The prosecutors gave their backing on April 4 for the warrant for Teodorin Nguema Obiang Mangue to be arrested to face questioning in a probe into alleged corruption, the sources said.

It is now for the French justice ministry to decide if a warrant will be issued.

French judges have since 2010 been probing the sources of money spent in France by Obiang, Congo-Brazzaville's President Denis Sassou Nguesso, and Omar Bongo, the late president of Gabon.

The charges were brought by Transparency International (TI), an anti-corruption watchdog which alleges the leaders and their relatives spent state funds from their countries on lavish purchases in France.

TI alleges Obiang owned more than four million euros worth of vehicles in France, while altogether the three leaders had accumulated French assets worth 160 million euros ($210 million).

Obiang's son is agriculture minister -- granting him an official salary of 3,200 euros ($4,200) -- and deputy head of his country's mission to Paris-based UNESCO, a post which gives him diplomatic immunity.

He is widely perceived as being groomed to succeed his father.

In September last year, 11 of the family's luxury cars were seized in Paris as part of the probe. Police in February searched an Obiang residence in an upmarket Paris district, removing vanloads of possessions.

Obiang has ruled Equatorial Guinea with an iron grip since seizing power in a 1979 coup d'etat, making him the continent's longest-serving head of state.

His country is sub-Saharan Africa's third biggest oil exporter but its people live in grinding poverty.

© 2012 AFP

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