The Franco-Gabonese wife of former president Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon, Sylvia Bongo Ondimba Valentin, was arrested on Thursday, according to her attorney. She had been under house arrest since a military coup at the end of August for allegedly embezzling state funds.
Her French attorney, François Zimeray, said when asked by AFP about his client’s detention late on Wednesday night, “I can confirm this.” He condemned an “arbitrary” and “illegal” process. The central jail in Libreville reportedly issued a committal order for Mrs. Bongo late on Wednesday night following a protracted re-hearing by an examining magistrate, according to Gabonese media sources.
On September 28, Mrs. Bongo was accused of “money laundering and forgery” and remained under house arrest in Libreville, where she had been since the first day after the coup that had ousted her husband on August 30.
The military that overthrew her husband publicly suspected the former first lady of “manipulating” her husband, who was recovering from a serious stroke in 2018, of having been, along with their son Noureddin Bongo Valentin, the nation’s de facto leader since then, and of having “massively embezzled public funds” after accusing his entourage of rigging his re-election. Since the first day of the coup, Noureddin Bongo has been detained on “corruption” and “embezzlement of public funds”-related charges.