Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, son of the president of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang, and vice president of the country, arrested this Tuesday his half-brother, Ruslan Obiang Nsue, also the son of the dictator, for the alleged irregular sale of a plane from the national airline, Ceiba Intercontinental, to the Spanish company Binter Canarias.
According to the investigation carried out by the Equatorial Guinean authorities, the plane was sold in 2018 and the money went directly to Ruslan Obiang's checking account.
The arrest of a son of Obiang is an unprecedented event in Equatorial Guinea and shows the power acquired by Nguema Obiang, known as Teodorín, who is increasingly emerging as the successor of his father, in power for more than 43 years .
At the end of last November, Teodoro Nguema Obiang himself ordered the opening of an investigation into the disappearance of an ATR 72-500 model plane from Ceiba Intercontinental, the flag carrier.
The device had flown to Gran Canaria in 2018 for a routine check, but never returned.
Last Tuesday, after verifying that the device was sold to the Binter company by Ruslan Obiang, director of Ceiba Intercontinental during the events investigated, without the board of directors of the Equatoguinean company being aware of it, Nguema Obiang ordered the house arrest of his stepbrother and his bringing to justice.
"I am not going to get carried away by familiarisms or favoritism," he assured on his Twitter account.
Ruslan Obiang, son of the Equatorial Guinean dictator, in a 2019 image.
The Binter Canarias maintenance company, called BinterTechnic, reached an agreement with Ceiba Intercontinental in August 2012 to provide technical assistance for Ceiba Intercontinental's ATR brand aircraft.
According to the report of the investigation commission created in December, the aforementioned plane arrived in Gran Canaria at the end of 2018, but, as Ceiba did not pay the maintenance expenses at any time, the aircraft was still blocked in Gran Canaria in mid-2019. The Equatorial Guinean Government assures that it released 700,000 euros for said expenses, but that the money went to a private account in Malaysia and later in Miami, in the United States.
The investigation commission ensures that, when the plane was still in Gran Canaria, the lawyer for Ceiba Intercontinental in Spain made a sales contract for the aircraft that was signed by Ruslan Obiang, facts that he admitted.
However, the money from the sale did not end up in Ceiba's account in Madrid, which was frozen, but was deposited in Obiang Nsue's personal account.
When Ceiba's board of directors detects that BinterTechnic had scrapped the plane and sold it for parts, it decides to take legal action against Binter for violation of the maintenance contract, according to the Equatoguinean authorities.
The arrest of Ruslan Obiang Nsue is interpreted in Equatorial Guinea as a show of force by Teodorín, who has gradually become the strong man and the tough face of the regime that his father, Teodoro Obiang, has presided over since 1979, rather than as a message of firm against corruption.
In fact, Nguema Obiang himself was sentenced in 2017 by a French court to three years in prison and a fine of 30 million euros, exempt from compliance if he does not reoffend, as well as the confiscation of all his assets in France, for an alleged crime. of money laundering from illegal commissions and corrupt practices in his country during his time as Minister of Forestry and Agriculture.
The arrest of Ruslan Obiang, moreover, occurs at a time of tension with Spain after the death in the Mongomo hospital, last weekend, of the opponent of Spanish nationality sentenced to prison Julio Obama, who, according to an investigation by the National Court, was kidnapped and tortured with the direct involvement of Carmelo Ovono Obiang, another of the sons of the Equatoguinean president.
The Spanish Foreign Ministry has asked Equatorial Guinea to clarify the cause of Obama's death and has also requested pardon for another imprisoned Spanish opponent, Feliciano Efa Mangue, convicted like Julio Obama for an alleged coup attempt.
The Equatoguinean vice president has branded the facts revealed by the National Court as "false hypotheses and slander" and has assured, through his Twitter account, that Julio Obama died "naturally due to various illnesses he suffered from, according to the medical certificate." .
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