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Court rules Abacha hearing can continue

A Geneva court has ruled that a hearing concerning the son of former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha can continue without his presence.

Abacha’s Swiss lawyers had argued that since Abba Abacha had not been able to get a visa to enter Switzerland in time, the trial should be adjourned.

The younger Abacha is appealing against a 2009 guilty verdict on charges of belonging to a criminal organisation and the court seizure of $350 million (SFr385 million) linked to his father, who died in 1998.

The Geneva Police Court said on Tuesday that the hearing could go ahead without Abacha and some of the witnesses who have decided not to attend.

Abacha, 41, who is accused of plundering his country’s accounts while his father was in power in the 1990s, is ready to come and explain himself, lawyer Pierre de Preux said on Monday, the opening day of the trial.

Lawyer David Bitton, who is representing Nigeria, on the same day described the defence’s tactics as crass.

Some non-governmental organisations have already raised concerns that the trial might be a failure, but say the fact that it is taking place is a big step forward.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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