Former Gabonese First Lady Incarcerated Amidst Corruption and Forgery Allegation

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Former Gabonese First Lady, Sylvia Bongo Ondimba, has been incarcerated at the central prison in Libreville, Gabon. She had been under house arrest since the military coup in late August, which accused her of embezzling public funds.

On September 28th, she was formally charged with “money laundering and forgery” and subsequently placed in provisional detention after a lengthy interrogation by a magistrate.

Sylvia Bongo’s lawyer, Me Gisèle Eyue-Bekale, obtained a ten-day postponement for a hearing to argue for her release. This development comes in the midst of an extensive investigation into alleged massive misappropriation of public funds involving Sylvia Bongo and her son, Noureddin Bongo Valentin, who is already in custody, along with six former senior officials from the presidential cabinet, according to consistent judicial sources.

The military that overthrew President Ali Bongo’s regime following accusations of election fraud publicly suspected the former First Lady and Noureddin of “manipulating” the former president, who suffered severe consequences from a stroke in 2018, and of being the “actual” de facto leaders of the country for the past five years.

The coup occurred on the night of August 30th, less than an hour after the announcement of Ali Bongo Ondimba’s reelection. The army declared the “end of the regime,” and General Brice Oligui Nguema, the coup leader, was proclaimed the president of the Transition two days later.