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The Franco-Gabonese wife of Gabon’s ex-president Ali Bongo Ondimba, Sylvia Bongo Ondimba Valentin, under house arrest since a military coup at the end of August for alleged embezzlement of public funds, has been jailed, her lawyer said on Thursday.
“I can confirm this,” replied her French lawyer, François Zimeray, when questioned by AFP about his client’s incarceration late on Wednesday evening. He denounced an “illegal” and “arbitrary” procedure. According to Gabonese media reports, Mrs. Bongo was placed under a committal order at Libreville’s central prison late on Wednesday evening after a lengthy re-hearing by an examining magistrate.
Mrs. Bongo was charged on September 28 with “money laundering and forgery” and kept under house arrest in Libreville, as she had been since the first day following the August 30 putsch that overthrew her husband.
The military who overthrew her husband, accusing his entourage of rigging his re-election, publicly suspected the former First Lady of having “manipulated” her husband, who was suffering from the after-effects of a serious stroke in 2018, and of having been, alongside their son Noureddin Bongo Valentin, the country’s de facto leader since then, and of having “massively embezzled public funds”. Noureddin Bongo has been in prison since the first day of the coup, charged with “corruption” and “embezzlement of public funds”.