Federal Court rules Abacha retrial valid

The Swiss Federal Court has ruled that a retrial of a case involving a son of former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha is valid, Le Temps has reported.

This content was published on September 20, 2011 - 17:16 and agencies

Switzerland’s highest court has thrown out an appeal by Geneva’s public prosecutor against the retrial, which had been ordered by an appeals court in Geneva.

Abba Abacha had been given a two-year suspended prison sentence for belonging to a criminal organisation by the Geneva Police Court in summer 2010.

But the Geneva appeals court found that Abacha’s rights had been “seriously violated” because the case was heard in his absence. Abacha said that he was not granted a visa in time to attend the original hearing.

The Federal Court’s ruling means that the trial will have to start again from the beginning.

As part of the family structure set up by his father, Abacha was found guilty of helping to plunder the Nigerian treasury while Sani Abacha was in power in the 1990s.

The court ordered the confiscation of the sum – thought to be over $400 million (SFr355 million) – which Abba Abacha stashed in the Bahamas and Luxembourg.

The Abacha clan is thought to have diverted a total of about $5 billion from the Nigerian treasury.

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