Mauritania’s former president jailed for five years for corruption

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Mauritania’s former president, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, has been sentenced to five years in prison for money laundering and “illicit enrichment”.

Abdel Aziz led the West African country for a decade after coming to power in a 2008 coup and was an ally of Western powers fighting Islamist militants in the Sahel region. He had been on trial since January and denied corruption allegations.

The court found Abdel Aziz guilty of two of 10 charges last week, following an inquiry into allegations of embezzlement of public property and corruption. One of his lawyers called the ruling “a political verdict targeting a man and his family”. Prosecutors said the former head of state’s conviction was historic.

The court, which specialises in corruption and economic crimes, acquitted some of Abdel Aziz’s associates who had also been on trial, including two former prime ministers.

Abdel Aziz was succeeded in 2019 by a political ally, Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, who remains president, but Abdel Aziz’s government quickly came under scrutiny over actions including deals on offshore oil projects.

Abdel Aziz has the option of appealing his sentence at the Supreme Court.

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