Second Swiss trial: Abacha’s son absent again

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GENEVA  (AFP) – The corruption trial of the late Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha’s son began in his absence in Switzerland on Wednesday, for the second time in two years.

Abba Abacha, who is accused of pillaging his country’s funds while his father was in power, was said to be unable to travel after a road accident, the Geneva court heard.

At a previous trial in 2010, Abacha failed to turn up at court after Swiss authorities refused to give him a visa.

The defendant’s lawyer, Christian Luscher, quoted by Swiss news agency ATS, said the accident happened last Thursday in Nigeria, where the defendant lives, leaving him with whiplash and head injuries.

A medical certificate and police report were produced at the Geneva court to back up Abacha’s claims, before Luscher asked for the trial to be adjourned until his client was in a fit state to travel.

Abba Abacha is accused of belonging to a criminal organisation that raided Nigeria’s public funds from 1994 to 1998. He denies the charges.

The dictator is estimated to have siphoned off $2 billion (1.6 billion euros) from his country, of which $700 million has been returned to Nigeria from Swiss bank accounts.

Another $400 million is believed to be in Luxembourg, lawyers for the Nigerian government said.

At his original trial in 2010 Abba Abacha received a two-year suspended sentence.

Judges also ordered the confiscation of $350 million dollars from accounts in Luxembourg and the Bahamas.

The judgment was annulled by Switzerland’s highest court after it found that Abacha’s rights had been violated since he had been tried in his absence.

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