Shijal ChudasamaJanuary 25, 2023

Former president of Mauritius appears in court for historic corruption trial

Former president of Mauritius appears in court for historic corruption trial

Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, the former president of Mauritius, is currently on trial for allegedly accumulating an illegal personal fortune during his 11 years in office.

Aziz, a 66-year-old former general, and nine other defendants, including former ministers, prime ministers, and businessmen, appeared in court on Wednesday in the nation's capital, Nouakchott. Charges against them include misuse of office, buying and selling influence, money laundering, and illegal enrichment.

A roll call of the defendants was conducted before the hearing began. Aziz, who was wearing a blue robe, stood up when his name was called and raised his hand. In the courtroom, the defendants were placed in a metal stand that resembled a cage as a large number of police officers stood watch outside.

Aziz, a trader's son who was installed in office in a nonviolent coup, served two terms and left office in 2019 after successfully containing the armed group violence that had engulfed other Sahelian nations.

He was followed by Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, his former right-hand man, in the nation's first transfer of power between elected leaders in a time of military coups and instability. But a month after the transfer, charges of financial wrongdoing surfaced.

Aziz is suspected of obtaining a fortune worth more than $72 million through stealing money from state contracts or the sale of real estate.

He has refuted the accusations, but he won't reveal where his income came from when questioned by the authorities.

He claims he is the victim of a vendetta and that the constitution protects him from legal action.

Before the trial, Taleb Khayar Ould Med Mouloud, one of his attorneys, stated that "he totally rejects the allegations against him."

Many individuals have good reasons to dislike him, including the Muslim Brothers, whom he expelled from the nation, according to Maloud.
Lawyers predict that the trial will span several weeks or maybe months.

Ghazouani, a former general himself, was crucial to Aziz's approach against the armed factions.

Ghazouani still referred to his former boss as "my brother, my friend" as of December 2019.

But Aziz's problems started the following year.

A parliamentary inquiry was launched investigating his presidency's financial activities. It probed into oil revenues, sales of state property, the closure of a publicly traded food supply company, and the operations of a Chinese fishing firm.

He was kicked out of the Union for the Republic party, which is in power.

Local news sources claim that Aziz was detained on the morning of the trial because he had refused to go to the police. His passport was reportedly taken this month as he was preparing to board a flight from Nouakchott to Paris, according to French radio RFI.

In Mauritania, a sizable, conservative desert nation that attained independence from France in 1960, the trial is without precedent. The case is incredibly uncommon across all of Africa.

Those Mauritanians who spoke with the new Agence France-Presse agency expressed their hope that the trial will set a new standard for the battle against corruption in their nation.

According to Transparency International's 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index, the country is placed a pitiful 140th out of 180 countries.

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