The son of Equatorial Guinea’s president is being tried on charges of embezzling state funds and laundering money.
The trial continues to be delayed, despite a long-standing investigation.
The investigation began back in 2011 when the nation’s police impounded Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue’s luxury vehicles.
Originally, French officials had planned for the trial to take place this past Monday.
However, as a result of the absence of the defendant, Mr. Nguema’s lawyers were able to attain a further postponement of the trial. The lawyers asserted that additional time is required in order to allow the better prepare for their case and build their defense.
They pointed to the 14 years of alleged illegal activity being conducted by their client, arguing that preparing a defense for such an extensive period deserves greater preparation time.
The delays have garnered opposition from the prosecution.
Indeed, prosecutor William Bourdon, who is representing the Transparency International Organization that brought the case forward, has accused the defense attorneys of paralyzing the legal system through manipulative maneuvering.
The court case was prompted by the actions of two non-governmental organizations whose goal was to target corruption amongst the leaders of African nations.
In the case of Mr. Ngeuma, the focus of the investigation into corruption is monetary. Reportedly, the defendant used public funds to purchase up to 15 cars at a cost of 5.7 million euros (which is equivalent to $6 million).
Furthermore, he allegedly utilized almost 20 million euros in order to expand his own education in the arts.
Mr. Ngeuma also supposedly used public funds to pay for expensive accomodations, including lodging in luxurious Persian palaces as well as a mansion located in France.
One obstacle to the trial is that Mr. Ngeuma has listed his place of residence as a mansion situated in Paris.
In actuality, the defendant’s residence is at the presidential palace in Equatorial Guinea’s capital of Melabo.
Having a Paris residence is an attempted strategic move by Mr. Ngeuma because of the ruling by the International Court of Justice that the Parisian mansion must be treated as Equatorial Guinea’s embassy.
With this status of political importance, Mr. Ngeuma has tried claiming diplomatic immunity to prevent French officials from putting him on trial.
This move by the International Court could potentially prove contentious. Already, the court has been accused of bias against the continent of Africa, which prompted some African nations to take drastic action.
Over the past fall, three nations stated their intention of no longer complying with the court because of the perceived prejuedices being carried out against them.
Indeed, most of the investigations that the court has carried out to date have focused solely on African nations with few exceptions. Furthermore, the exiting nations perceive their movement to leave the court as justifiable because the world’s major powers (including China, Russia and even the United States) are not even members of the International Court.
This judicial organization was supposed to have been founded for the puposes of trying some of the most serious international crimes, including war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
Because the world’s major players are not on the court but also exercise the power to veto votes on the U.N. Security Council, they are able to protect themselves or allies from prosectution for perpetrating war crimes.
Some believe that in the case of Mr. Ngeuma’s trial, the prejudice of the court is again being perpetuated due to violations of the normal code of conduct.
Although the International Court granted the mansion status as an embassy, they also ruled that the trial was allowed to move forward as planned.
Still, Mr. Ngeuma has managed to escape the grasp of France’s legal justice system thus far due to trial delays.