Sylvia Bongo Ondimba Valentin, the wife of Gabon’s ousted president Ali Bongo Ondimba has been charged with “money laundering” and other offences, the public prosecutor said Friday (Sep. 29) a month after a coup toppled her husband.
Among other charges, the former first lady has been indicted with receiving stolen goods.
Sylvia Bongo Ondimba Valentin was charged by an investigating judge on Thursday (Sep. 28), Andre Patrick Roponat announced on state TV channels on Friday.
The presidency said at the time that Mrs. Bongo Valentin was under house arrest in Libreville “for her protection”; her lawyers who were in France said she was “arbitrarily detained together with her youngest son”.
One of her lawyers revealed earlier this month that she was being kept “incommunicado outside any legal framework.”
Ali Bongo, who was initially placed under house arrest in Libreville after the coup, was then declared “free to move about” with the possibility of “travelling abroad.
Their son, Noureddin Bongo Valentin, has already been charged with corruption and embezzling public funds with several former cabinet members and two ex-ministers.
Bongo, who had ruled the central African country since 2009, was overthrown by military leaders, moments after being announced the winner in a presidential election.
The result was immediately labelled a fraud by the opposition and the military coup leaders, who accused Bongo’s regime of widespread corruption and unprogressive governance.
The junta however took a tougher stance on the former first lady and the eldest son of the former first couple.
The coup leader general Oligui accused the duo of “forging Ali Bongo’s signature and giving orders on his stead” after he suffered a stroke in 2018.
Ali Bongo took over when his father Omar died in 2009 after nearly 42 years in power.