No public funds for Geingob's Areva lawsuit

If the president sues Radio France International over a story linking him to corruption at the French mining giant Areva, he will pay for the lawsuit himself.

16 April 2018 | Government

President Hage Geingob is threatening legal action over corruption allegations involving Areva in his private capacity and no state funds will be used.

His lawyer, Sisa Namandje, confirmed this to Namibian Sun, but declined to comment when queried about their next move.

Earlier this month Radio France International (RFI) published an article in which it mentioned Geingob's involvement at UraMin as a consultant.

The article linked him to an unfolding investigation involving Sébastien de Montessus, Areva's former mining branch head, who has been charged with corruption in relation to Areva's purchase of Canada's UraMin, which owned the Trekkopje mine in Namibia.

In a letter to on 9 April this year Namandje demanded “an immediate retraction of “untruths and imputations of dishonesty towards Dr Geingob”.

The letter also stated that Geingob reserved all his rights against RFI should the retraction not be made immediately.

The article has not been retracted yet.

However, yesterday, Namandje told Namibian Sun that there was still “reasonable time within which they can respond”.

He would not comment on what steps would be taken should RFI refuse to retract the article.

“For now, no comment on the next step. Once I have instructions then I will do what my client wants me to do,” he said.

He added that this was a private matter which had “nothing to do with you and the public”.

Implications

When approached for comment on the hypothetical implications this case may have on the president should he be charged in France, constitutional expert Professor Nico Horn said that the Extradition Act does not allow Namibia to extradite its own citizens, let alone the president.

“The best the French can expect is to give Namibian prosecutor-general Martha Imalwa the dockets and request her to prosecute once the president has left office,” he said.

He also added that in France a president cannot be indicted during his or her term for crimes committed before he or she became president.

“Consequently, I cannot see France bringing a request while President Geingob is still in office.

“And I cannot see that extradition can take place without parliament approving. Although article 32 (3) (b) refers to a different situation, it demands a resolution by parliament to prosecute a past president.

“The same checks and balances should apply when prosecution of a sitting president is at stake.”





JEMIMA BEUKES

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