A lawyer for Israeli diamond tycoon Benny Steinmetz has asked a Swiss court of appeals to reject the testimony of the former Guinean first lady.
The case, an alleged conspiracy dating back to the mid-2000s, saw Steinmetz’s BSGR group squeeze out a rival for mining rights to a vast iron ore deposit in the Simandou region of southeastern Guinea.
The case exposed the bleak and complex world of trade and fierce competition in the profitable mining business.
Prosecutors have linked Guinea’s President Lansana Conte, who ruled the West African country from 2005 until Steinmetz’s death in 2008 from 1984 to his death in 2008, and his fourth wife, Mamadi Toure. Almost $10 million (£8.5 million).
Steinmetz’s attorney Daniel Kintzer, who appeared at the Court of Appeals in Geneva on Monday, said the terms and circumstances of the deal between Mr. Touré and the FBI in the United States were unclear and that defense attorneys did not have the opportunity to question her. He said he robbed Steinmetz of his chance, for a fair trial and the right to cross-examine her, he said.
He said the Swiss prosecutor had “deliberately” excluded his lawyers from pretrial questioning in the United States, where Toure lives.
She has reached an agreement with the US authorities on this matter.
Toure did not appear at the first trial in January last year.
As a result, Steinmetz was sentenced to five years in prison and to pay a fine of 50 million Swiss francs (£44 million).
Two other defendants received lesser sentences.
“It’s easier to falsely accuse a defendant when you don’t have to see them,” Kinser said.
“The defense team was unable to cross-examine Madame Touré.”
He said a “face-to-face confrontation” was necessary under both Swiss law and the European Court of Human Rights judgment.
However, Geneva prosecutor Yves Bertossa countered that such testimony is permissible but must be used “with a certain degree of caution”.
He said it was an “extraordinary” insinuation that U.S. or Swiss prosecutors may be “colluding” with Mr. Touré, and that evidence from written contracts, bank statements, wiretapping, etc. He said other key elements of the incident were sufficient. hold on to beliefs.
The appeal is scheduled to continue until September 7.
A verdict is expected at a later date.
Defenders of Israeli bigwigs argued that lower courts did not fully understand the facts of the case, and the court set an example that Switzerland, which has a long-standing reputation for secretive financial transactions, could do. I believe I wanted to I will explain the king of finances if necessary.
After the ruling, Swiss transparency group Public Eye hailed a “groundbreaking ruling” that showed the courts could see through “skillful” legal defenses.
Steinmetz, 66, has denied the charges and remains free until he appeals.
If the conviction is upheld, his lawyer can appeal to the Swiss Federal Court.
He was in court on Monday.
The prosecution said that BSGR won Guinean exploration and mining licenses in the Simandou region of southeastern Guinea from 2006 to 2010, while rivals, the British-Australian mining group Rio Tinto, had two sites. said it had been stripped of its mining rights. regional.
The Steinmetz defense team says the region’s mountains contain some of the world’s largest undeveloped iron ore deposits.
They say BSGR was the first company to explore the potential for iron ore mining in the area.