January 4, 2017 / 10:45 AM / 8 months ago

French trial of Equatorial Guinea leader's son postponed until June

PARIS (Reuters) - A French court on Wednesday postponed the corruption trial of the son of Equatorial Guinea's president until June 19, bringing proceedings to a halt two days after they had begun.

The lawyer for Teodorin Obiang had asked for the hearing to be suspended on the grounds that his client, who was summoned to trial three weeks ago, had not been given enough time to prepare his defence in a complex case.

Obiang, eldest son of President Teodoro Obiang and a vice-president of Equatorial Guinea, is accused of buying palatial Parisian properties and exotic cars with money plundered from his country, a small oil-rich state on Africa's west coast.

Obiang has not appeared in France to answer the charges of laundering embezzled public funds, which expose him to a sentence of 10 years in jail and big fines if convicted.

The case is the first of several to reach court in a broader judicial investigation into allegations of illicit acquisitions in France by long-time leaders and family relatives in several African countries including Gabon and Congo Republic.

Reporting by Chine Labbe; Editing by Brian Love and; Andrew Callus/Richard Balmforth

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