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Son of Former Senegal President Jailed

  • Anne Look

Karim Wade (R), son of Senegal's former president Abdoulaye Wade, attends a rally by his father's political party Parti Democratique Senegalais (PDS) in Dakar, Dec. 6, 2012.

Karim Wade (R), son of Senegal's former president Abdoulaye Wade, attends a rally by his father's political party Parti Democratique Senegalais (PDS) in Dakar, Dec. 6, 2012.

Karim Wade, the son of Senegal's ex-president and a former government minister, has been formally charged with illicit enrichment. He allegedly amassed assets worth an estimated $1.4 billion during his father's 12 years in power. The 44-year-old Wade was placed in Dakar's central prison just before midnight Wednesday, and the judge said he will remain without bail until trial.

Karim Wade spent his first night Wednesday at Dakar's central prison, known as Reubeuss.

Local media report that Wade arrived at the jail just before midnight after being formally charged with illegal enrichment during his eight years in the government of his father, Abdoulaye Wade.

Seven of Karim Wade's associates were charged as accomplices and reportedly detained as well.

The case has dominated headlines since police took Karim Wade into custody on Monday following a six-month investigation by the prosecutor for newly revived Court Against Illegal Enrichment.

No one above the law?

Senegalese say it is as a sign that no one is above the law.

Forty-eight-year-old land use manager Abdoulaye Kane said Karim was a big man, responsible for a lot of things so it is only normal that he should account for it. He said he trusts the courts to do their work and if they find that there was something dirty in how Karim acquired his assets, then he should answer for it.

During his father's time in power, Karim Wade managed a hefty ministerial portfolio that included air transport, energy, infrastructure and international cooperation.

Prosecutors accuse Wade of "engineering" a complex network of front men and offshore companies, based in places like the British Virgin Islands and Luxembourg, to acquire stakes in companies involved in the running of Dakar's port, handling services at the airport, and other key parts of the economy.

Karim Wade was a powerful but divisive figure during his father's presidency.

Thirty-two-year-old Moustapha Gueye said it is up to the courts to decide whether Karim is innocent or guilty. But, he said, Karim was a bit greedy, wasn't he? He accumulated so many ministries. He said President Wade said he only trusted Karim, but Karim wasn't the only person in Senegal. He said that was a lack of respect.

Wade denies charges

Karim Wade's legal team has denied the charges against him and said it can prove that his wealth was obtained legally.

The case is the centerpiece of efforts by the government of President Macky Sall to crack down on corruption and increase transparency. But Wade's supporters say it is nothing more than a political witch hunt.

Forty-year-old fruit seller Coumba Ndiaye, said that they either need to investigate everyone from the past government, and some in the current one, or let Karim Wade go.

She said she has been asking herself why Karim Wade is the one being targeted. She said other people, some who are still in government, stole too. But, she said they are going after Karim because he is their political competition.
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