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Former Mauritanian President pleads not guilty on illicit enrichment charges

Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz delivers a speech after a meeting with Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, unseen, at the Organization's Headquarters, in Paris, on Dec. 11, 2012   -  
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Christophe Ena/AP


Former Mauritanian president Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz pleaded not guilty on Thursday (Apr. 04) to charges of illicit enrichment on which he began to be questioned by a Nouakchott court.

The court was resuming hearings after a two-week recess and reading out the charges against him.

Aziz faces charges of "abuse of office", "influence peddling", illicit enrichment" and "money laundering" along with two former prime ministers, former ministers and businessmen.

The 66-year-old man took the reins of Mauritania following a coup in 2008 before being elected the following year and reeelected in 2014. 

The former president claims he is " the victim of a plot" hatched by people who opposed him during his tenure.

He challenged the charges as being "baseless", putting forward the Constitution, which he said prohibits trying a president for acts committed in office.

Since the opening of the trial on January 25, it has been a series of arguments about the court's jurisdiction, whether or not to maintain Aziz and his 10 co-accused in detention, and the rights of the defense.

Early February, the court decided not to rule on challenges to its jurisdiction until the end of the proceedings.

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