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Friday 24 October  

Detained Equatorial Guinea rights lawyer 'home at last'

Published on 5 November 2012 - 5:07pm
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A human rights lawyer who was detained in a notorious prison in Equatorial Guinea after visiting a client there was freed after being held in solitary confinement for nine days, he told AFP on Monday.

Fabian Nsue had gone to Black Beach prison in the small west African nation's capital Malabo to visit Agustin Esono Nzogo Nsang, a schoolmaster with ties to the opposition who was arrested last month on what the opposition says are trumped-up charges of embezzlement.

"I was incarcerated October 22 and I was freed Tuesday (October 30). I was in solitary confinement," Nsue said.

The lawyer said he was accused of wanting to destabilise the country, but no charges were brought against him.

"I'm home at last," he said.

After his disappearance, groups including Human Rights Watch expressed concern over his fate.

Nsue added that his client, Nzogo, had been accused without evidence of planning to place exiled opposition leader Faustino Ondo Ebangin in power.

"It's false," Nsue said.

Equatorial Guinea has been ruled with an iron fist by Teodoro Obiang Nguema since 1979, making him Africa's longest-standing ruler.

Daniel Dario Martinez Ayecaba, president of one of the two main opposition parties, has alleged that Nzogo's arrest was politically motivated and said the schoolmaster had been in contact with Daniel Lebegue, who chairs the French branch of Transparency International.

Black Beach prison, built under Spanish rule in the 1940s, lies near a black sand beach in the capital Malabo. Its name alone sends chills down the spines of Equatoguineans.

Thousands of people are believed to have been tortured and killed there.

Lebegue's group was largely responsible for the launch of a French investigation into so-called "ill-gotten gains", an unprecedented case which has led to an arrest warrant against Obiang's son -- and vice-president -- Teodorin.

Earlier this month, Equatorial Guinea responded in kind by issuing an arrest warrant against Lebegue.

The French probe is seeking to establish whether several African presidents and their families have embezzled public funds to acquire vast assets in France.

In the Obiang family's case, those assets have been estimated at around $200 million (156 million euros), including a huge mansion on one of the most expensive streets in Paris which was raided last year.

  • This general view shows the popular quarter of SEMU in Malabo, the capital ...
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