Mauritian Court Allows Appeal of PM's Corruption Acquittal

  • Intermediate Court convicted prime minister in June 2015
  • Conviction was overturned by Supreme Court a year later

Mauritius’s Supreme Court granted permission to the state prosecutor to challenge Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth’s acquittal in a corruption case last year.

“This case has a considerable public interest because it is the first time that the court has given its interpretation on the conflict-of-interest offense,” Chief Justice Kheshoe Parsad Matadeen said in a ruling delivered in the capital, Port Louis, on Thursday. “The court therefore grants permission to the Director of Public Prosecutions to appeal to the Law Lords of the Privy Council.”

The Supreme Court in June 2015 found Jugnauth guilty of using his influence as finance minister to persuade the government to acquire a medical clinic in 2010 that was partly owned by his brother-in-law. His conviction was overturned in May 2016 by the Supreme Court.

Jugnauth, who resigned from the cabinet after the 2015 conviction, was reappointed as finance minister after the acquittal. In January, the 55-year-old succeeded his father as Mauritian prime minister, and continues to serve as the Indian Ocean island nation’s finance minister.

Thursday’s ruling “does not call into question the innocence” of the prime minister, his lawyer Shamila Sonah-Ori said in an emailed statement.

“Jugnauth hopes that the appeal will be heard as soon as possible and his lawyers will do their utmost to ensure that it is done,” Sonah-Ori said.

Mauritius is the easiest place in Africa to do business, according to the World Bank, while the African Development Bank ranks it as the most competitive economy in sub-Saharan Africa. The sugar- and textile-exporting nation is targeting becoming a high-income country, which is defined as an economy with a gross national income per capita above $12,735, by 2025.

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