The Government of Equatorial Guinea refuses to repatriate to Spain the body of Julio Obama, 61, the opposition figure of Spanish nationality imprisoned in a Guinean jail who died on January 15 in Mongomo, a city on the border with Gabon, under unclear circumstances .
The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs acknowledges in a letter addressed to the police unit investigating this case of kidnapping and torture, to which EL PAÍS has had access, that it has not received a response from the Guinean authorities to any of its requests.
The General Information Commissioner has just transferred to the judge of the National Court Santiago Pedraz the failed Foreign Affairs efforts and denounces in a letter that, "despite the multiple efforts made at the highest level by Spanish diplomacy, there is a notable lack of information and commitment to collaborate on the part of the Guinean authorities”.
José Manuel Albares, Foreign Minister, unsuccessfully reiterated this request to his Guinean counterpart, Simeón Oyono Esono, during a meeting held in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, on February 16.
One of the Spanish opponents of Obiang dies imprisoned in a prison in Equatorial Guinea
Foreign Affairs requested on January 20 the immediate repatriation of the body of Julio Obama at the request of Judge Pedraz, who is investigating the case of the alleged kidnapping and torture of Obama and three other opponents of the Government of Teodoro Obiang Nguema, all of them residing in Spain.
The European Parliament recently approved a resolution condemning the "barbarism" of the dictator's regime and demanding the repatriation of the body of the deceased Spaniard.
No news or visits
The government of the dictator has not responded to the Foreign Ministry's request to provide information on the state of health and whereabouts of the Spanish-Equatorial Guinean opposition member Feliciano Efa Mangue, imprisoned in the same Mongomo prison where the late Julio Obama was.
It is now one year since the only visit authorized by the Spanish ambassador in Malabo, Alfonso Barnuevo.
The diplomat requested medical treatment for Efa for the ailments he suffered, according to what Xabier Martí, general director of Consular Affairs, has communicated to the judicial police.
Since then nothing has been heard of him.
The whereabouts and state of health of the other two opponents, Martín Obiang Ondo and Bienvenido Ndong, for whom Foreign Affairs has requested information without obtaining a response, is also unknown.
Both were also kidnapped by deceit in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, transferred to Equatorial Guinea on the presidential plane and victims of torture, according to indications of the judicial investigation.
The four opponents were tried and sentenced by a military court to between 60 and 90 years in prison for an alleged coup attempt.
The trial was denounced by organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
Change of judicial criteria
Judge Santiago Pedraz has just modified his ruling by which he had summoned Carmelo Ovono Obiang, Secretary of State for the Presidency and son of the dictator, to testify in person and as an investigator at the National Court.
His lawyer presented a brief assuring that "his public commitments prevent him from attending" and that his permanent residence is in Equatorial Guinea, and the magistrate has decided that he should testify by videoconference.
Ovono Obiang has been granted a Spanish residence card since 2020, is married to a Spanish woman, has a daughter, properties in Malaga and Barcelona, and manages a company for alleged real estate activities.
His resident card obliges him to reside in Spain for six months and, according to the police investigation, he frequently travels to Malabo.
This change of criteria is the second that the magistrate adopts in the investigation of the case.
The most striking occurred on December 29, when the police officers investigating the case informed him that Obiang's son was staying at a hotel in Madrid, where he was being watched.
Against the discretion of the Prosecutor's Office and the plaintiffs, the judge ordered that he be given a copy of the complaint and that he appoint a lawyer.
That same morning, Ovono Obiang took a plane to Malabo.
He has not set foot on Spanish soil again.
Days before, Pedraz had ordered, instead, his police arrest, transfer to court and that his mobile phone and any electronic device be confiscated.
Aitor Martínez, a lawyer from the Movement for the Liberation of Equatorial Guinea III Republic, who filed the complaint, has appealed Pedraz's decision.
He argues that the defense brief has been submitted after the deadline and that the judge did not notify the parties, and highlights the seriousness of the crimes charged to those investigated and the "false" status of their permanent residence in Equatorial Guinea.
He also highlights the non-existence of international legal cooperation assistance for taking a statement.
"You cannot make [the declaration] by simply sending a private link [electronic access permit] so that you can connect from your home," the appeal states.
He also requests that a hearing on precautionary measures be held for the purpose of requesting pretrial detention or bail for Ovono Obiang,
which requires the physical presence of the person investigated, according to article 505.2 of the Criminal Procedure Law.
The popular accusation appeals with this same argument.
The judicial summons includes, also as those investigated for the crimes of kidnapping and torture, Nicolás Obama Nchama, Minister responsible for Internal Security, and Isaac Nguema Endo, General Director of Security: the Guinean security leadership in full.
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