Procedures & Milestones : Ill-Gotten Gains – Congo Brazzaville
May 2007 and July 2008: The voluntary associations Sherpa, Survie and Fédération des Congolais de la Diaspora filed a complaint with the Paris Public Prosecutor’s Office. They denounced the misdoings of five foreign Heads of States, among them Denis Sassou Nguesso, accusing them of having misappropriated public funds, and claiming that the proceeds had been invested in France.
A preliminary investigation was ordered, then closed on grounds of insufficient evidence of any offence.
2 December 2008: A complaint with civil claimant was filed by Transparency International France (TIF) and a Gabonese national with the Paris investigating judge, against three foreign Heads of State, among whom Denis Sassou Nguesso, together with certain members of their families.
9 November 2010: The complaint was finally declared admissible by the Court of Cassation.
23 April 2012: A criminal debt attachment order was issued by the investigating judge against Mrs. Danièle Mboussou Ognanosso, the wife of Denis Sassou Nguesso’s nephew. She appealed against that order.
25 May 2012: In those appeal proceedings, the Paris Public Prosecution Department confirmed that it was pressing for enforcement of the order handed down by the investigating judge.
11 October 2012: Mrs. Danièle Mboussou Ognanosso raised a “question prioritaire de constitutionnalité” (QPC – an application for a preliminary ruling on the constitutionality of a legislative provision) against the debt attachment order, having regard to the right of priority.
19 November 2012: The investigative chamber of the Paris Court of Appeal ordered the staying of proceedings pending the decision on the QPC application. In so doing, it retracted its earlier decision the same day refusing to forward the QPC application, which it thereupon forwarded to the Court of Cassation.
As a reminder, a QPC application on a point of constitutionality may be referred to any jurisdiction falling under the Conseil d’État (Council of State) or the Court of Cassation. Only the assize court has no jurisdiction to receive such a referral. However, in criminal proceedings, the question may be raised either pre-trial, before the investigating judge or afterwards, in first-tier appeal-court proceedings or in a second-tier cassation referral.
The jurisdiction to which the QPC application is made forthwith conducts an initial examination, ascertaining whether the question is admissible and whether the criteria laid down by the enabling constitutional bylaw (loi organique) are fulfilled. If all these conditions are met, that jurisdiction forwards the constitutionality application to the supreme appeal jurisdiction of either the Council of State or the Court of Cassation, which investigates the constitutionality issue in greater depth and decides whether to refer the matter to the Constitutional Council.
CASE IN PROGRESS…