Juan Carlos Ondo, former president of the Supreme Court of Justice of Equatorial Guinea, a position he held between May 2015 and August 2018, arrives on time for the appointment at a hotel near Châtelet square, in central Paris.
He wears a navy blue fleece coat, a gray Prince of Wales check suit, a white shirt, a discreet dark tie, and brown leather cross-buckle shoes.
Two years ago, this judge was rescued from his home in Malabo, the Equatorial Guinean capital, by the then ambassador of Spain, Guillermo López Mac-Lellan, and by those of France and the United States, hiding for weeks in the home of a diplomat and helped to escape from the former Spanish colony.
Fifteen armed men, concealed by ski masks and in cars with no license plates, had surrounded his house and were planning to arrest him.
Days before they had warned him that there was a plan to kill him.
Now, the magistrate lives discreetly in Paris and is one of the main witnesses in the case that the National Court is pursuing against a son of President Teodoro Obiang and the leadership of the Guinean Ministry of the Interior for the kidnapping and torture of four opponents, two of them Spanish people.
One of them, Julio Obama, 61, has just died under unclear circumstances and the Spanish government has asked for explanations.
The testimony of this man, calm despite fearing for his life, is key to proving the irregularities of the trial to which the opponents were subjected and the international network of kidnappings and murders that, according to the Spanish Police, has woven the dictator's regime in Europe.
A very active network in Spain, where two Colombian hitmen hired by the regime tried to assassinate in 2015 the Equatoguinean businessman Germán Pedro Tomo, a witness against another son of Obiang in a case in France, and stabbed his brother several times, mistaking him for him when he was leaving from his house in Alcorcón (Madrid).
And in London, where two hired criminals fired from a motorcycle against the opponent Salomón Abeso in 2018 and injured his son.
“We come to take you one by one.
You are not going to meet with God, but with Obiang”,
says the audio that various opponents have received on their mobile phones.
Since 2018, complaints about threats have accumulated in Spanish police stations.
Ondo, 55, a doctor in Law from the French University of Saint-Étienne, married and father of five children, is not a member of any party and is the son of Purificación Angue Ondo, ambassador of Equatorial Guinea in Spain from 2012 to 2020. Now , is determined to lead the opposition parties in exile.
You have presided over the Supreme Court of Justice.
To occupy that position, I imagine that you have to have the confidence of President Teodoro Obiang.
He trusted my mother, ambassador to Spain for eight years.
I did not know him personally.
There is a tight control in all the personalities of the judiciary, but he had never positioned me politically.
What was justice like in Equatorial Guinea during the years of your tenure as head of the Supreme Court?
There the judges are appointed and dismissed by the President of the Republic.
The Constitution proclaims the independence of judges, but it is not fulfilled.
I proposed different reforms, organized some forums for debate and discussion on legal issues.
From then on I was already considered a dissident.
Your dismissal occurred when you criticized the death by torture of a magistrate at a police station in Malabo.
Judge José Esono was arbitrarily detained.
He was 70 years old, had previously been a high school teacher and trained 20 generations.
Everybody wanted it.
They tortured him and he died at dawn in the sinister Guantánamo police station.
They took him dead to the Rosa Mística clinic, they tried to force the doctor to certify that he died there, but he refused.
His relatives woke me up at dawn.
I felt very dejected, I had reached the limit.
At the funeral I read a posthumous eulogy, too prudent because it did not reflect what I thought, and I asked that his death be clarified.
It was a gratuitous murder.
Are there many more deaths in strange circumstances in your country?
The last one, that of Julio Obama, days after the Spanish judicial investigation became known.
It is difficult to have the information.
The families are afraid and the news does not reach the judges.
Out of respect, Equatorial Guinea has to help repatriate Obama's body for an autopsy.
They have issued a death certificate, we do not know in concept or by whose order.
Any refusal or obstruction of repatriation would demonstrate the inconsistency of that certificate.
One of the Spanish opponents of Obiang dies imprisoned in a prison in Equatorial Guinea
Now they accuse you of leading the alleged 2017 coup attempt for which several Spaniards have been kidnapped and convicted.
Look, there has not been a single judge who has told Obiang what I have told him.
They have accused me from public television, but there is not a single formal accusation.
It is an extrajudicial plea of guilty, without trial.
One more madness.
You are one of the main witnesses in the case being pursued in the National Court against Carmelo Ovono Obiang, son of the dictator, and the Interior leadership for the kidnapping and torture of the four opponents of the president now imprisoned in a prison in Malabo.
I agreed to testify for moral reasons.
When that trial began, I was the president of the Supreme Court of Justice.
I have been a victim of that State terrorism due to the attempted kidnapping that I suffered.
There was talk that my kidnapping or murder had been arranged.
Members of the intelligence services have traveled to Europe to find out my whereabouts.
Did you or your colleagues receive any order or recommendation related to that trial where these four people were sentenced to between 60 and 90 years in prison?
I am a witness in the case opened in Spain.
I can't answer that question.
Both the late Julio Obama and the other three imprisoned and convicted persons have managed to recount the torture they suffered in prison.
And they point to Carmelo Ovono, one of Obiang's sons and head of the Foreign Intelligence service, as one of the perpetrators.
In this case, it was the victims themselves who denounced their torture.
They have also been incommunicado for a year.
The Guinean authorities do not hide from these practices.
As a judge I have seen many people with serious physical scars.
It is a common practice in Obiang.
Your life was saved by the ambassadors of Spain, the United States and France when in 2020 they came to your house to rescue you.
They had warned me before that there was a plan to assassinate me.
And I transferred my concern to the ambassador of Germany and the European Union.
When those armed hooded men arrived, I called the embassies.
That night I thought it was my last day on Earth.
The Spanish ambassador came out to talk to them and tell them that what they were doing was aberrational.
They threatened the ambassadors and told them that they had an order from the president to shoot diplomatic cars if they took me out in their cars.
I can't tell you how I got to safety and out of the country because it would compromise other people.
Obiang had given the order to kill me.
It was a hunt.
The Spanish Police collects in its reports numerous complaints from opponents of Obiang residing in Spain, where he denounces threats.
Social networks have changed everything and now there are many activists who talk about it there.
The Spanish Police have been receptive and take them seriously.
Hitmen and threats are not a fantasy.
Do you fear for your life?
Why hasn't he settled in Spain as other opponents have done?
Of course I fear for my life.
I have one of my children with psychological assistance.
When I'm in Madrid I feel like a game piece.
The Madrid community is full of informers and informers.
The current ambassador is a former member of the security.
He has come to Spain with the mission of organizing follow-ups on opponents.
I settled in Paris for security.
I asked for protection and they have given it to me.
The Obiang cells here are less active.
Obiang has governed Equatorial Guinea for 43 years with an iron fist.
What do you think is his immediate future?
Obiang can only get worse, not change.
His psychology is challenging.
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