“Diplomatic immunity” must be abolished everywhere

Read this story:

Equatorial Guinea argues luxury Paris mansion was part of embassy when raided

THE HAGUE (Reuters) – Equatorial Guinea argued on Monday that a luxury mansion in central Paris used by the son of the country’s president was protected by diplomatic immunity when it was raided by French authorities in 2012.

The case at the International Court of Justice is seen as a test for the limits of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Immunity, which shields government officials from prosecution abroad.

Equatorial Guinea launched the case in 2016 after the residence of Teodorin Obiang on the grand Avenue Foch was raided as part of a corruption investigation that resulted in a conviction for embezzlement, confirmed last week.

The conviction came after a collection of 25 supercars he owned, including a Ferrari Enzo and a Bugatti Veyron, were confiscated by the Geneva prosecutor’s office under a deal ending a money-laundering inquiry. The cars fetched nearly 27 million Swiss francs ($27 million) at auction in September.

Obiang, 50, is the son of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who has ruled Equatorial Guinea, a former Spanish colony, for more than three decades.

A representative for Equatorial Guinea told the court’s judges on Monday that the luxury apartment, in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the world, had been bought by the African nation in 2011 and was part of its embassy.

“France has refused to recognize the diplomatic pretext of the building under the false pretence it belongs to the private domain”, ambassador Carmelo Nvono Nca, Equatorial Guinea’s agent, told the judges.

In coming days France will present its side before the United Nation’s highest court for disputes between states. A ruling is expected later this year.

In earlier hearings the French argued Equatorial Guinea was attempting to shield Obiang, known for posting pictures of his glamorous lifestyle on Instagram, by retroactively adding his opulent 101-room home to its diplomatic mission.

Police raided Obiang’s residence as part of a corruption investigation, eventually seizing 100 million euros worth of assets including paintings by Renoir and Degas and another fleet of luxury vehicles.

Obiang was convicted last week by a French court of embezzlement of public funds and ordered to pay a 30 million euro ($33 million) fine.

Diplomatic immunity in any case is a concept by which officials representing a country are allowed to openly violate the laws of another country while living there.  It is a form of disrespect for the second country’s government and the people there that are subject to those laws. A basic standard of ethics and justice is that NO ONE should be above the law.

And this is not about some young idiot that didn’t know that he was doing wrong.

Obiang, 50, is the son of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who has ruled Equatorial Guinea, a former Spanish colony, for more than three decades.

Being 50 myself, I know damn well if I were not the son of a ruler who has been in power for far too long, there would be no question of me being imprisoned for my crimes. This case angers me too!

I hope the International Court of Justice rejects this appeal and ultimately abolishes the concept of diplomatic immunity completely. And also that the people of Equatorial Guinea themselves rise up and force their corrupt leader into retirement, and also prevent his son from ever ruling. Sheesh!

 

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