26 September 2012

Equatorial Guinea: Govt Takes France to ICC Over Obaing Corruption Raids

Equatorial Guinea has filed a case against France in the International Criminal Court (ICC) over a corruption case that saw police raid a Paris mansion owned by President Teodoro Obiang's son, Teodorin, and found millions of euros-worth of luxury goods.

The Equatorial Guinea complaint calls on the ICC to ban France from interfering in its internal affairs and order it to stop legal action against its representatives, according to the AFP news agency.

Judges and police investigating charges of embezzling public funds against several African leaders seized the mansion, worth about 500 million euros, in August and goods worth many more millions of euros in a raid in February.

In July they issued an arrest warrant for Teodorin Obiang.

Equatorial Guinea's statement to the ICC accuses France of breaching the diplomatic immunity of its representatives and premises.

The government "denies that it is settling political scores and is just asking for the strict application of international law, the necessity of which François Hollande insisted on after his election," according to lawyer Olivier Metzner, who says that the ball is now in Paris's court.

France can refuse to accept the ICC's competence in the case but "such a refusal would show contempt for the international authorities", the statement argues.

"In denying its competence, which France has only done in rare cases, it would be in breach of international law, UN resolutions and the Vienna conventions [on international treaties]," Metzner told AFP.

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