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Thai swindle case trial begins

Luanda, ANGOLA, January 17 - The Prosecuting Council (MP) on Thursday requested the uphold of remand custody of the defendants involved in the "Thai Swindle" case, whose trial began this morning in the 1st Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court, in Luanda province.,

According to one of the representatives of the MP, Adão Pedro, who intervened in the first session of the trial, they are "very powerful defendants, who can jeopardize the progress of the process" and may call into question the investigations still in progress.

The defendants have been on remand custody since 21 February 2018.

According to the prosecuting council, the alleged perpetrators "are very influential, organized internationally and persist in committing crimes."

He further reaffirmed that the USD 50 billion check "was not issued by the Bank of the Philippines", stressing that even then, the defendants "continue to deny that it belongs to the institution".

The Thai Mega Swindle case trial is headed by judges Domingos Mesquita, Daniel Modesto and Aurélio Simba. Ten defendants and 38 respondents were present.

In this process, the presence of the ex-director of the former Technical Unit for Private Investment (UTIP), Norberto Garcia, and nine other national and foreign citizens is the highlight.

They are all accused by the Prosecuting Council (MP) of having committed crimes of falsification of documents, fraud, association of criminals and money laundering.

The Supreme Court has acquitted the former Chief of General Army Staff of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA), Geraldo Sachipengo Nunda, even at the stage of contradictory investigation (criminal file used to assess the degree of guilt of the accused before the trial.

The scheme was revealed in 2017 when alleged Thai investors, with alleged complicity of national citizens, attempted to "swindle" the Angolan State for USD 50 billion.

At the time, the Supreme Court decided to apply the coercive measure of remand custody to eight defendants of this case, which includes four Thai citizens, equal number of Angolans, one Canadian and one Eritrean.

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