French court stops probe of African leaders’ assets

A French appeals court today halted a judicial probe into luxury homes and cars owned in France by the presidents of three oil-producing African countries, a lawyer for the plaintiff said.
The probe was prompted by French anti-corruption activists who wanted the justice system to question how the leaders of Gabon, Congo Republic and Equatorial Guinea and their families could afford to acquire assets worth tens of millions of Euros.
The activists scored a big success in May when a magistrate launched a judicial investigation into their allegations that the assets were bought with embezzled public funds. But state prosecutors immediately appealed to try and stop the probe.
An appeals court today ruled in favour of the prosecutors, arguing that the civil society activists could not legitimately act as plaintiffs against the foreign heads of state and that the investigation should not proceed.