Mauritania: Former President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz charged with corruption

Former President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, along with a dozen other people, were charged with corruption on Thursday, March 11. A lawyer for the former Mauritanian president told RFI. The defendants left the judge’s chambers free, but were placed under judicial supervision. In addition to former President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, one of his sons-in-law, two former Prime ministers, and several former ministers and businessmen are involved in the proceedings.
It is not yet known precisely what charges the judge has brought, but the public prosecutor’s office had sent him a long list: “corruption, money laundering, illicit enrichment, squandering of public property”, or “obstruction of justice”, according to a source close to the public prosecutor’s office quoted anonymously by the AFP.
A little more than a year ago, a parliamentary commission of inquiry was set up around suspicions of corruption and misappropriation of public funds during the years of power of the former president: management of oil revenues, sale of state estates, or activities of a Chinese fishing company. The commission’s report was sent to the courts last August. Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz was questioned for a week by the police and decided to remain silent, but he left without his passport and was forbidden to leave Nouakchott.
Since then, companies, buildings and sums of money have been frozen or seized, amounting to nearly one billion euros, “in Mauritania alone,” according to the public prosecutor.
In early March, the former president and many other prominent figures were again summoned by the police. Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who claims immunity as a former president, has once again chosen to remain silent. He and his lawyers cry “settling of accounts” and denounce an attempt to sully his honor.
Former President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz led Mauritania from 2008 to 2019. But since the election of his successor, Mohamed Ould Cheickh el Ghazouani, a friend of 40 years, the sky has continued to darken over his head and that of his family and former collaborators.

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