Ex-Mauritanian President Sentenced To Five Years Imprisonment

Former President of Mauritius, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, was handed a 5-year jail term by a court in Nouakchott on Monday. The charges stemmed from accusations of abusing his position to accumulate an illicit fortune. Aziz, who governed for a decade from 2009 to 2019, had been on trial since January alongside ten other prominent figures, including two former prime ministers, facing charges of illicit enrichment, abuse of functions, influence-peddling, and money laundering.

Aziz was cleared of other charges while convicted of illicit enrichment and money laundering. The court also ordered the confiscation of assets acquired through illicit means. The 66-year-old former president, who has been in detention since January 24, had previously spent several months in prison in 2021. Meanwhile, the trial, initiated in January, involved a Mauritanian prosecutor seeking a 20-year prison sentence for Aziz, alleging abuse of power and amassing substantial wealth.

Aziz maintained his innocence and argued that the trial was politically motivated and should be dismissed. The prosecutor’s closing arguments, which lasted about three hours, sought sentences of 10 years in prison for the two former prime ministers and two ministers, along with the confiscation of their assets. For the remaining defendants, the prosecutor requested a five-year prison term.

One of his lawyers called the ruling “a political verdict targeting a man and his family”. Prosecutors said the former head of state’s conviction was historic.

The court, which specialises in corruption and economic crimes, acquitted some of Abdel Aziz’s associates who had also been on trial, including two former prime ministers.

Abdel Aziz was succeeded in 2019 by a political ally, Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, who remains president, but Abdel Aziz’s government quickly came under scrutiny over actions including deals on offshore oil projects.

Culled from Reuters