#Headlines

Yahya Jammeh’s host retaliates against the UK as France upheld guilty verdict

Aug 2, 2021, 1:27 PM | Article By: Alhagie Mbye, The Point’s Europe Correspondent

Following punitive sanctions by the United Kingdom as well as an extraordinary guilty verdict by a French court against Teodorin Obiang, Equatorial Guinea’s vice President, Malabo, has fiercely retaliated against the London by announcing the closure of the country’s embassy in the British Capital.

The preempted diplomatic strike against London is currently having an unprecedented undesirable effect to Equatoguineans not only in the UK but across Europe.

Reacting to the news, Joseph Ondo, an activist demanding the “return of our looted millions”, told the Point: “We might be stranded or even stuck here because Obiang decided to close the Embassy in London…There are several citizens who depended on it for vital services…"

Instead of rectifying the problem, "...and keep clamping down on corrupt practices and vicious human rights violations against the people back home, our Embassy becomes the casualty”.

Ondo added: “…But the government also ignorantly forget that we, the citizens, are the Embassy…Nonetheless our struggle for justice is continuing”.

Notwithstanding, this correspondent was told that Obiang’s government is extremely angry since the UK via its Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, "take the bull by the horns and formally announced new sanctions against the President's son, for misappropriation of state funds”.

London has always been in the forefront calling for “accountability and respect for the rule of law” in Equatorial Guinea and recently pronounced that Teodorin had “participated in corrupt contracting arrangement and soliciting bribes to fund a lavish lifestyle inconsistent with his official salary as a government minister”.

Furthermore, the Cour de Cassation, which is currently the premier court in France, after “examination all the facts beyond reasonable doubt” refused to accept an appeal by the Obiangs against several corruption charges.

Consequently, the tribunal, which is also the “court of last resort” with jurisdiction over all civil and criminal matters, ruled that the verdict against the accused “cannot be overturned”.

Therefore, the VP’s previous conviction of guilty is upheld and maintained.

Earlier, Swiss prosecutors also refused similar appeals and confiscated most of Teodorin“ classy and luxurious cars” in another money laundering investigation.

Lawyers said it is now “reasonable and feasible to easily pave the way for the return of Millions of Euros to the ordinary people of Equatorial Guinea”.

Rights groups across Europe and elsewhere including prominent politicians who are constantly blaming Obiang for unlawfully hosting the former Gambian dictator by “criminally refusing to hand over him to the International Criminal Court (ICC)” vowed to pursue his case further.

Transparency groups also suggested a higher figure of “stolen cash and assets siphoned from the country especially from the oil and timber sectors”. They are equally demanding a more thorough investigation in to the “hidden millions”.

The Obiangs denied all the allegations as "baseless".

In his reaction widely circulated in Europe, the country’s Foreign Minister Simeon Oyono Esono, announced that “the first decisions that the country has taken is the total closure of our diplomatic mission in London…We do not accept interference in our country’s domestic affairs”.

Even though his country was fully represented in court, the Minister called the decision “unilateral and illegal”.

President Obiang who is also experiencing serious challenges at home, recently clashed with his Prime Minister. Soon afterwards, the PM furiously tendered his resignation.

The animosity between the allies arise following reported “economic shock-waves”, when the President blamed certain government officials for the “distresses” caused.

But officials are dismayed that the President refused to fault his own son’s “behaviors and extravagant lifestyle”. Instead, the Head of State denounced other officials for “not doing enough to help the country through a crisis”.

Obiang who came to power in a military coup in 1979 and since overstayed in power “using cronies and ruthlessness” vowed to track his family belongs at all cost.

Though, it remains to be seen how his family could ever recover such huge amount of wealth and property when its legal team exhausted all the appeals. Moreover, the assets in question are currently on sale.

 

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