After years of long legal fights and judicial procedures that culminated in the confiscation of assets worth almost $1 billion, the trial of Portuguese-Angolan businessman Carlos So Vicente over a $900 million embezzlement scandal has commenced in a court in Luanda, Angola’s capital city.
Vicente was previously a key player in Angola’s oil business, overseeing a collection of firms that provided insurance and reinsurance contracts to Sonangol, the country’s state-owned oil corporation.
The long-running corruption trial in Luanda began on Friday, according to Africa News, with journalists carrying cameras or recorders being denied access into the tribunal hall.
In addition to direct involvement in the $900 million embezzlement case, the Angolan billionaire was accused of influence peddling and money laundering.
Vicente, the owner of the AAA Seguros insurance agency, was detained nearly two years ago and accused with $1 billion in embezzlement, tax evasion, and money laundering.
In January, Carlos’ lawyers submitted a second plea for his release, as well as a petition contesting the validity of his arrest under the writs of habeas corpus.
He was arrested in Angola and held in captivity for longer than the maximum period permitted for an accused person to be held without being tried. The attorneys accused the Angolan authorities of total contempt for exceeding the legal limit on his preventative detention.
Vicente’s detention, according to his lawyers, is unconstitutional and hazardous to his health due to underlying disease and other health issues. They noted that his imprisonment has raised his chances of getting COVID-19, in addition to the risks given by his particular health conditions.
They also argued that the legal deadline for preventative detention had passed and that not knowing his trial date violated the most fundamental human rights, such as the right to life, liberty, the presumption of innocence, and justice that regards everyone as equals.
READ ALSO: 3 Africans Who Got their Wealth Fraudulently