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Mauritania: the trial of ex-president Aziz can continue

Mauritania: the trial of ex-president Aziz can continue
Mauritania's out-going President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz looks on during the swearing-in   -  
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The historic trial of former Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz for illicit enrichment can continue, the court decided on Tuesday not to rule on challenges to its jurisdiction until the end of the proceedings.

For days, the parties' lawyers battled over the court's jurisdiction, with the defense arguing that the criminal chamber could not try Mr. Aziz and his dozen co-defendants.

The court finally decided that this question would be decided at the same time as that of the guilt or not of the defendants after the debates on the merits of the case noted an AFP correspondent.

Mr. Aziz, who led this pivotal country between North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa from 2008 to 2019, has been on trial since January 25 for having abused his power in order to amass an immense fortune, alongside two former prime ministers, former ministers and businessmen. 

Ten in total at the beginning, the defendants are now 11, one of them, absent at the opening, having been able to join the trial.

The debates were also monopolized by the defense's request for the release of its clients, placed in detention the day before the opening. The court ended up rejecting these requests.

Mr. Aziz, a general brought to power by a putsch in 2008 then elected president in 2009 and re-elected in 2014, denies the facts and cries out for the plot intended to keep him out of politics.

The former strongman of this country, once shaken by coups and jihadist actions but returned to stability under his presidency, is one of the rare former heads of state to be held accountable for the way in which he grew rich in power.

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