18 January 2018

Equatorial Guinea: Opposition Rejects Equatorial Guinea President Obiang's Denial of Torture

Photo: UN Photo/Cia Pak
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea: His government says there was a coup attempt against him.

A political opposition member was tortured to death in front of his party's headquarters in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea, by state security personnel, according to an opposition leader. Gabriel Nse Obiang Obono, the head of Malabo-based Citizens for Innovation (CI) party, told RFI that Santiago Ebee Ela did not fall ill and die, in a rebuttal to an exclusive interview with the country's president.

"The president didn't tell the truth," said Obono, who asked for the right to respond after RFI's Christophe Boisbouvier and France 24's Marc Perelman interviewed President Teodoro Obiang Nguema in Malabo.

Obono's party holds one seat in Equatorial Guinean parliament. The ruling party won the remaining 99 seats in the elections last November.

Citizens for Innovation said that the government is systematically trying to eliminate party members.

"Opposition members were detained just after the elections, they tortured them after a raid on party headquarters in Malabo on December 28," said Obono, adding that the party counted some 200 detainees who they can name.

President Obiang said this was not the case. "We can't use that figure, it doesn't make sense. I think it's about 20," Obiang told RFI, in a wide-ranging interview that also discussed the recent coup attempt.

"The public prosecutor could give you the answer, I think, but you know it was before the elections... before parliament was sworn in," he added.

Obono told RFI on Monday that Santiago Ebee Ela, a member of his CI party, had been tortured by state security and died.

President Obiang said he believed Ebee Ela was ill when he was arrested, when asked by RFI.

"I don't think he died because of mistreatment by police," said Obiang, referring to Ebee Ela. "He was someone who was ill, maybe, someone who could die in hospital, [or] at home, but if he died when he was arrested, the police are not responsible for it," he said. "You know when someone is ill, you must take them to the hospital," he added.

The opposition leader further questioned where the president had received his information.

"The president said Santiago Ebee Ela was in jail, got sick and then died. But who told the president why Santiago Ebee Ela was in prison? Why was he imprisoned?" said Obono. "We, the party of Santiago Ebee Ela, say he wasn't sick," he added.

According to Obono, Ebee Ela was with another person the night of December 28, and was walking to CI headquarters in Malabo when he was picked up and allegedly tortured by police. Obono said police had raided the headquarters.

"Santiago Ebee Ela didn't go to prison. He was tortured to death by the military," the opposition leader said.

Equatorial Guinea's president said that an inquiry would be carried out to investigate the death of Santiago Ebee Ela. He said he could order the probe, but his office was not directly responsible for carrying it out.

Although the investigation had not been carried out yet, Obiang was firm in repeating that the opposition assertions were not true.

"The opposition takes advantage to claim he was tortured, but it's not true."

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