A Somali court yesterday ruled that millions of dollars confiscated from an Emirati civilian plane in 2018 will not be returned, local media outlets reported.
According to reports, the Banadir Regional Court instructed the Central Bank not to release $9.6 million found in three unmarked bags aboard a Royal Jet plane that arrived at Mogadishu airport in April 2018.
The extent of the court's jurisdiction on the government's pledge to return the money is not clear and there has been no official comment from authorities.
The court's decision coincides with the visit of the Somali caretaker Prime Minister, Mohamed Hussein Roble, to the UAE where he will hold talks with Emirati officials on bilateral relations.
It is unclear whether the money was intended for the military or to buy political leverage. Somalia's relations with the UAE have been unsettled since June 2017 when the Emirates – along with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain – launched a blockage on Qatar. Somalia was pressured to support one of two camps.
Somalia, initially supported Qatar, but officially decided to ally with the UAE and Saudi Arabia in September last year after extensive lobbying by Abu Dhabi.
But last month, Somalia rejected a UAE port deal with Ethiopia and the self-declared state of Somaliland, claiming that it undermines its unity, sovereignty and constitution. Saudi Arabia offered to mediate between Somalia and the UAE but no diplomatic moves were made.
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