DAKAR – A special court in Senegal sentenced the son of former President Abdoulaye Wade to six years in prison for corruption on Monday and ordered him to pay a 138 billion CFA franc ($228 million) fine, dashing his hopes of competing in elections due in 2017.
Karim Wade, who has been in detention since April 2013, was chosen by the main opposition party, the Senegalese Democratic Party (SDP), as its presidential candidate on Saturday, raising the stakes ahead of the verdict. He denies any wrongdoing.
“The facts before us constitute illicit enrichment by Karim Wade,” said judge Henri Gregoire Diop, noting that Wade had hidden away funds in offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands and Panama.
Opposition supporters inside the courtroom shouted in protest after the verdict was read. “I no longer want to be Senegalese,” shouted one woman. “This verdict is shameful.”
President Macky Sall, who ended former president Wade’s 12-year rule at hotly contested elections in 2012, warned last week that his government will not tolerate any attempt to destabilise the West African country in the wake of the court ruling.
Prosecutors had demanded a seven-year prison term and a 250 million CFA franc ($413,784) fine for Karim Wade, who was known as the ‘minister for heaven and earth’ during his father’s government for controlling five ministries.
The next presidential election could come as soon as 2017 if Sall wins approval at a referendum next year for reducing the presidential term to five years from seven.
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Karim Wade has repeatedly said he is the victim of a political witch hunt, something the government strongly denies. He held a four-day hunger strike in January to protest over the conditions of his detention.
($1 = 604.1800 CFA francs)(Reuters)