19 - 02
By Lisa Vives
Equatorial Guinea, under President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, is reviving the odious death penalty against 147 opposition activists accused of “rebellion, attacks on authority and public disorder” – a sign of deepening desperation under President Obiang.
The activists include leaders of Citizens for Innovation (CI), many of whom were rounded up after a purported coup plot discovered near the country’s border with Cameroon. Malabo’s security minister accused citizens of Chad, Sudan and the Central African Republic of taking part in the attempted putsch but his version of events could not be confirmed.
Activists said they were detained and tortured at “Guantanamo” – the name given to the central police station of the capital, Malabo.
CI charged: “The prosecutor wants to hide or to silence the atrocities and the brutality of the crimes of torture… we shall go to the international courts and the ICC (International Criminal Court) for crimes against humanity.”
U.N. envoy Francois Louceny Fall is reportedly being dispatched next week to confirm the claims made by the regime.
President Obiang has ruled Equatorial Guinea for more than three decades, making him one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders. Rights groups label his administration as one of the world’s most corrupt.
According to the U.S. State Dept., in reports filed prior to the Trump administration, abuses by the Obiang regime have included: the limited ability of citizens to change their government; unlawful killings by security forces; government-sanctioned kidnappings; systematic torture of prisoners and detainees by security forces; arbitrary arrest and incommunicado detention.
Last year, President Obiang issued a temporary moratorium on capital punishment but according to the opposition Convergence for Social Democracy, some eight death row prisoners were secretly executed by firing squad.
The Obiang clan is also in the spotlight for a judgement against Teodorin Obiang, the vice-president and president’s son, who was accused in a French court of embezzling $180 million of public funds to finance his jet-set lifestyle.
Teodorin was tried in absentia and sentenced to a three-year suspended judgment for corruption. He was also given a suspended fine of $35 million for money laundering, corruption and abuse. His lawyer said he will take the case before the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the U.N.’s top court, since, he claimed, Teodorin had immunity as a government official.
The suspended sentences mean that Obiang will only face jail or have to pay the fine if he is found to have re-offended in France. w/pix of Pres. Obiang