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Court agrees to release Mobutu assets

Assets belonging to the deceased dictator of Zaire, Mobutu Sese Seko, are to be released from Swiss banks and returned to his heirs.

This content was published on July 14, 2009 - 15:32

In a ruling published on Tuesday, the Federal Criminal Court rejected a citizen's appeal by Basel University criminologist Mark Pieth to keep a freeze on funds worth SFr7.7 million ($6.68 million).

Pieth opposed returning the funds to Mobutu's heirs, who he alleged were suspected of criminal activities in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Switzerland blocked assets deposited by the late ruler and his family in 1997 following a request from the country's government.

In 2008 Swiss authorities agreed to keep the assets frozen so that a Congolese government lawyer could initiate proceedings in Switzerland to block the assets and for the competent legal authority to decide how to deal with the case.

However in April 2009 the Swiss Prosecutor's Office declared Mobutu's heirs should receive the money since the statute of limitations had run out in the case.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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