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Pedraz renounces to investigate Obiang's son for kidnapping and torture and cedes the case to Equatorial Guinea


Highlights: Pedraz renounces to investigate Obiang's son for kidnapping and torture and cedes the case to Equatorial Guinea. The judge affirms that he does not doubt the "impartiality" of the Guinean justice system in an alleged investigation into the disappearance of four opponents. The four dissidents, Feliciano Efa Mangue, Julio Obama Mefuman, Martín Obiang Ondo and Bienvenido Ndong Oando, were kidnapped by deception in November 2019 in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.

The judge affirms that he does not doubt the "impartiality" of the Guinean justice system in an alleged investigation into the disappearance of four opponents

Teodoro Obiang Nguema, in Malabo in November 2022. In the superimposed image above left, his son, Carmelo Ovono Obiang- (AFP)

Judge Santiago Pedraz has agreed to cede jurisdiction to Equatorial Guinea to investigate one of the sons of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, the Minister of the Interior and the Director General of Security of that country accused in Spain of the kidnapping, torture and disappearance for terrorist purposes of four Guinean opponents residing in Spain. one of them died a year ago in unclear circumstances.

The magistrate of the National Court considers as plausible the alleged investigation opened by the authorities of that country against Carmelo Ovono Obiang, Secretary of State of the Presidency, and agrees in an order to which EL PAÍS has had access, that all the preliminary proceedings of the case be sent to the Supreme Court of Justice of the former Spanish colony. including the testimonies of protected witnesses who have testified in Spain. The decision may be appealed to the Chamber.

Judge & Party

Teodoro Obiang, father of the main suspect, is, as Head of State, the president of the Superior Council of the Judiciary and the highest authority. The Equatorial Guinean Constitution also gives him the power to appoint and remove the Attorney General of the Republic. To save his son Teodorín, current vice-president, from the clutches of French justice, the autocrat carried out an identical manoeuvre in 2017 in the so-called case of ill-acquired assets. The judges of that country did not admit the deception and he was tried and sentenced in absentia to three years in prison for money laundering. All his property in France was confiscated.

The four dissidents, Feliciano Efa Mangue, Julio Obama Mefuman, Martín Obiang Ondo and Bienvenido Ndong Ondo, were kidnapped by deception in November 2019 in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, transferred on President Obiang's plane to the Guinean city of Mongomo, placed in the cells of the Oveng Azem prison and tortured. They were put on trial for an alleged coup d'état and sentenced to between 60 and 90 years. Obama, a 61-year-old dual citizen of Spain and Equatorial Guinea, died in January last year. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, and all parties in the European Parliament have unsuccessfully called for the repatriation of his body.

Controversial decisions

Judge Pedraz's decision to cede jurisdiction to a country without democratic guarantees, contrary to the requests of prosecutor Vicente González Mota and the plaintiffs' lawyer Aitor Martínez, has not come as a surprise. The magistrate's actions have caused "astonishment" and "astonishment" in judicial circles consulted as it is a sensitive case where crimes against humanity are investigated. The Foreign Ministry admits that it has not heard from the three hostages who are still imprisoned for more than a year.

On November 29, 2022, the magistrate took a radical and unexpected turn in the secret investigation he had opened a year earlier against Carmelo Ovono Obiang, the dictator's son, with residence, accounts, properties and companies in Spain. That night the police investigating the case informed him that he was sleeping in a hotel in Madrid and that they were watching him. Pedraz ordered that he be given a copy of the complaint and that he appoint a lawyer. Two weeks earlier, when they were waiting for Spain to arrive at Madrid-Barajas airport and a police operation was waiting for him, he had ordered the opposite: that he be arrested, his mobile phone and electronic elements confiscated and he brought to justice. That same morning, Ovono Obiang took a plane to Malabo and has not set foot on Spanish soil again. Fifteen days later, Julio Obama died. Police sources did not hide their discomfort at the change in judicial criteria.

During the investigation, the judge has refused, on several occasions, to issue the international arrest warrant demanded by the prosecutor's office and the plaintiffs. Also, when the three under investigation: Obiang's son, Nicolás Obama, Minister of the Interior, and Isaac Nguema Endo, Director of Security, stood up to him last March and did not appear to give testimony by videoconference. They had previously managed to avoid their in-person testimony by citing "public commitments" that prevented them from traveling. An argument that was enough for the magistrate to summon them by videoconference. The predictable declaration of rebellion never came.

Now, the judge accepts the rogatory commission sent several weeks ago by the Guinean authorities in which it is stated that a procedure has been initiated for the same facts and assures that "the requirements are met so that the crimes investigated in Spain cannot be prosecuted and thus access the transfer of jurisdiction". "The request for assignment is clear in that it indicates that these are the same facts and it is clear that a procedure has been initiated for their investigation and those investigated are not in Spanish territory." The rogatory sent to Spain does not include any details on statements, investigations, requests to those under investigation, inquiries or other obligatory actions in any procedure.

Monitoring and surveillance

Pedraz adds that he cannot doubt that these are other facts or "that the procedure suffers from a lack of impartiality or is merely instrumental". It justifies its decision by pointing out that there is no basis to maintain that there are acts committed in Spain and affirms that, on the contrary, they were committed in South Sudan and Equatorial Guinea. For the magistrate, the monitoring and surveillance in Madrid of the victims of 15 detectives and the deception to get them to travel to Juba "are mere manifestations" that are not accredited. He points out that this espionage, demonstrated in a detailed police report, is not a crime, that it is not known what it was due to and that it took place a year before the kidnapping. Police identified Filemon Ndong Molo, director general of presidential security, as the mysterious man who paid the detective agencies. The order adds that the account of Obiang's son at BBVA, closed by the bank after he deposited 800,000 euros in 500 euro notes, does not constitute evidence of laundering.

The head of the Court of Instruction Number 5 rejects the request of the plaintiffs to declare Juan Carlos Ondo Angue, former president of the Supreme Court of Equatorial Guinea, the body that is supposedly investigating the defendants. Pedraz affirms "that the Guinean regime and its judiciary are not being judged." This witness has presented in the case an information note addressed to President Obiang on 20 October 2017 in which he reported that he had opened a "fictitious criminal case" in his capacity as president of that body to avoid the trial to which his son Teodorín was being subjected in France. With his testimony he wanted to show that the same manoeuvre is now being carried out. Ondo had to flee his country protected by several European ambassadors, including the Spaniard, when armed and hooded men showed up to arrest him at his home. Since then he has lived in Paris and has just been appointed leader of the opposition in exile.

The defense of the three defendants is represented by the former judge of the National Court and former colleague of Pedraz Javier Gómez Bermúdez, today in the law firm Ramón y Cajal Abogados.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2024-01-09

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