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Abacha son extradited to Switzerland

Abacha was charged in Geneva on Friday Keystone

Germany has extradited to Switzerland the son of late Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha, in connection with the embezzlement of billions of dollars of Nigerian funds.

This content was published on April 15, 2005 - 16:26

Abba Abacha was charged on Friday morning with money laundering, fraud, breach of trust and membership of a criminal organisation, according to Geneva prosecutor Daniel Zappelli.

Abacha was handed over on Thursday night and transferred to Champ-Dollon prison in Geneva.

He had been held in a German prison since December, when he was arrested on a Swiss warrant in Dusseldorf.

The Swiss authorities started examining bank accounts linked to Sani Abacha after the Nigerian government accused him of looting more than US$2.2 billion (SFr1.7 billion) from state coffers.

Abacha senior is said to have stashed the money abroad during his rule of the African nation from 1993 until his death in June 1998.

The following year Switzerland froze $730 million in accounts linked to Sani Abacha and his associates.

Switzerland returned around $200 million to Nigeria at the end of 2003, following settlements between parties to the money and the Nigerian government.

Last August it decided to return a further $500 million. In February the country’s highest court gave the go ahead for $458 million to be returned. However, the Abacha family and associates have appealed in Swiss courts to block the release of the funds.

The justice ministry said on Friday Switzerland was still working out the details of the money transfer.

"The money is still here and we are still in the process of clarifying how to hand it over," spokesman Folco Galli said.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Between 1993 and 1998, Sani Abacha is said to have plundered more than $2.2 billion from the coffers of Nigeria. SFr870 million was frozen in Switzerland.

More than $200 million of that amount has since been returned to Nigeria.

Switzerland's Federal Court ruled in February that a further $458 million in frozen funds could be returned.

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