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French court suspends corruption trial of ‘Playboy’ son of Equatorial Guinea leader

Jérôme Leroy, AFP | Teodorin Nguema Obiang arrives for his birthday party at Malabo Cathedral in Equatorial Guinea on June 25, 2013.

A French court agreed on Wednesday to adjourn the corruption trial of the playboy son of Equatorial Guinea's leader at the request of his defence team.

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Dates for the resumption of the trial, which opened on Monday, were being discussed, with the presiding judge in favour of June 19.

Teodorin Obiang, his country's vice-president, is suspected of using more than €100 million ($106 million) of state money to buy a mansion on one of the swankiest avenues in Paris as well as a collection of Italian supercars.

The trial is the first arising out of an unprecedented investigation into the French assets of a trio of African leaders accused of leading a life of luxury abroad while their citizens live in poverty.

Obiang's defence team had argued that the hearings for the trial, initially scheduled for the next few weeks, gave them too little time to call witnesses and prepare their defence.

Obiang, 47, the son of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, has attempted to prevent the case coming to court and claims he is innocent. He says the money came from legitimate sources, not bribes or embezzlement as suspected by prosecutors.

Playboy son?

In October 2014, he agreed to surrender €26 million worth of assets in the US to avoid corruption charges there. His notorious American purchases included a €31 million Malibu house paid for in cash and nearly €1.6 million worth of Michael Jackson memorabilia.

Wild parties have forged his reputation as a notorious playboy.

Obiang once agreed to receive a French television crew in his suite at the plush Bristol hotel near the Champs-Elysées.

Talking of his pride in his wine collection, he was also filmed at the wheel of his now infamous sports and buying 30 suits at once from costly tailors.

"I'm always looking for something exceptional," he said on camera to a jeweller who was showing him a watch worth 146,000 francs at the time (€22,250, $23,250).

Born in 1969, Obiang was 10 when his father Teodoro Obiang Nguema overthrew his bloodthirsty uncle, the dictator Francisco Macias Nguema, who liked being called "the unique miracle of Equatorial Guinea".

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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