The son of Equatorial Guinea's president has gone on trial for corruption in France, accused of buying palatial Parisian properties and exotic cars with money plundered from his native country.
Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue is charged with spending millions in state funds — much of it allegedly in cash — to feed an opulent lifestyle of fast cars, designer clothes, works of art and high-end real estate.
Prosecutors say Obiang's asset are worth around 100 million euros ($105 million).
Obiang, who is also the second vice president of the small oil-rich state on Africa's west coast, faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty of corruption, money laundering and embezzlement.
The 48-year-old was absent from the court on Monday.
Obiang's lawyer, Emmanuel Marsigny, argued that he was not given a "reasonable delay" to prepare a defense for his client's actions spanning 14 years and that the trial date notification was sent to a Paris address though his client lives at the presidential palace in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea.
"Believe me, Mr. Nguema (Obiang) is not a big-time bandit," he said. "He just wants his rights observed."