- The former first lady of Gabon, Sylvia Bongo Ondimba Valentin, has been charged with “money laundering”.
- She has been under house arrest since her husband, Ali Bongo Ondimba, was overthrown in a coup on August 30.
The charges against Bongo Ondimba Valentin stem from allegations that she and her son, Noureddin Bongo Valentin, used their positions of power to enrich themselves and their families. Noureddin Bongo Valentin has already been charged with corruption and embezzling public funds.
The coup leaders have accused the Bongo Ondimba family of widespread corruption and bad governance. They have also accused Sylvia Bongo Ondimba Valentin of “forging Ali Bongo’s signature and giving orders on his stead” after he suffered a stroke in 2018.
Bongo Ondimba Valentin has denied all the charges against her. Her lawyers have said that she is being “arbitrarily detained” and that she is being held “incommunicado outside any legal framework.”
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It is not yet clear when Bongo Ondimba Valentin will go to trial. The coup leaders have said that they are committed to upholding the rule of law, but they have also said that they will not hesitate to prosecute those who have committed crimes against the Gabonese people.