Former President of Mauritania Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz has been handed a five-year prison sentence for corruption. A court in the West African country found Abdel Aziz guilty on Monday of money laundering and “illicit enrichment” although he was acquitted on other charges, his lawyers said yesterday.
The 66 year old had been on trial in the capital, Nouakchott, since January, alongside 10 other prominent figures, including two former prime ministers and former ministers who served in his administration. The latter were cleared of all charges.
While the former leader had no comments following the verdict, his lawyer Taleb Khyar said, “We have always considered this to be a political trial that has nothing to do with the law.” He added that an appeal is planned. “We hope that our voice will finally be heard then.”
Another lawyer, Mohameden Ould Icheddou, was quoted as saying that, “The trial we attended was a political trial, and its verdict is also very political.”
The case ruling is seen as a landmark, given that it is a rare case for a former African leader to be tried and convicted for corruption.
Abdel Aziz had been in power for a decade between 2009 and 2019, following a coup against his predecessor President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi. The now jailed ex-president was succeeded earlier this year by his political ally, Mohamed Ould Ghazouani.