The government of the Central African country has accused Swiss institutions and media of deliberately tarnishing the image of vice president Teodorin Obiang with a view to influencing the judgement of the International Court of Justice.
The Swiss investigation into Obiang’s assets was opened by the Geneva prosecutor in mid-October at the request of French authorities. He is suspected of money laundering offences. Last week, 11 luxury sports cars belonging to Obiang were seizedexternal link by the Geneva authorities in connection with the investigation. The government of Equatorial Guinea denies the vehicles belong to Obiang.
“These vehicles are not the property of the Vice-President of Equatorial Guinea; they belong to an Equatoguinean company,” said a government statementexternal link released on November 7. It demanded that the vehicles be returned to the company immediately.
The statement also claimed that the unfavourable coverage of Obiang is part of a conspiracy carried out by “various French lobby groups, with the complicity of Swiss media and institutions”.
The government alleges that the intention is to discredit Obiang with a view to influencing the decision of the International Court of Justice, which is currently deliberating on a case filed by the government of Equatorial Guinea in June against France. The case demands that France recognise the diplomatic immunity of Obiang and drop all criminal proceedings against him. In June, Obiang was appointed “Second Vice-President in charge of Defence and State Security” by his father, president Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who has been in power for 37 years.
The government also wants France to release a building in Paris formerly owned by Obiang that was seized in 2012. According to the case documentexternal link (PDF), the building was sold by Obiang to the state in 2011, which has used it for “diplomatic purposes” and hence “should enjoy the immunities accorded to official premises by international law”.
The International Court of Justice is yet to pronounce its decision on the case.