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Friday, September 25, 2020

Lawyers want France to clarify position on Karim

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France’s ambassador to Senegal, Jean-Félix Paganon, in an interview with a local radio, suggested that Karim is guilty. “It [guilt] is a feeling, not a desire,” he said.

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In a joint statement addressed to the French foreign ministry, Amadou Sall and Madicke Niang, condemned Ambassador Paganon’s remarks as not only an interference in the internal affairs of Senegal, but also prejudicial.

The lawyers urged the French foreign ministry to clarify the position of the government of France on the trial of their client, and to provide guarantees on the neutrality of France in the case.

Karim Wade, 47, the embattled son of former Senegalese president, Abdoulie Wade, is standing trial before Senegal’s anti-corruption court, known as Crei. He has been in jail for two years, accused by the authorities of corruptly acquiring a fortune of US$242 million when he was an influential ‘minister in his father’s cabinet’. He is also accused of fraudulently holding bank accounts in tax havens and owning shares in airport companies.

The former president’s son however said the charges are politically motivated, and his lawyers described the case as an attempt to prevent him from contesting against President Macky Sall, who defeated his father in 2012. 

The prosecution in the past weeks requested a seven-year prison sentence and a fine of 250 billion CFA francs (around 380 million Euro) against him. The prosecution’s request was submitted in the absence of Karim, who has boycotted the trial since his manhandling by prison officers weeks ago. 

The court is expected to deliver its verdict on March 23, and if convicted, Karim faces a sentence ranging from five to ten years in prison.

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