By Enyichukwu Enemanna
A court in Mauritania has handed a former President of the country, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz a five-year jail term over corruption and abuse of office.
The court on Monday also ordered the forfeiture of all illegally acquired assets of the former leader.
Abdel Aziz was found guilty of money laundering and corrupt self enrichment, but was acquitted of other charges.
66, Abdel Aziz was elected President in 2009 after toppling his predecessor, Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi in a coup.
He led the country until 2019.
He had been on trial in the capital, Nouakchott, since January along with 10 other prominent figures, including two former prime ministers and former ministers who served in his administration.
They had been charged with several offences, including abuse of power, money laundering, illicit enrichment and influence peddling.
The corruption and economic crimes special court also sentenced some of the co-accused on lesser charges but the former prime ministers and two ex-ministers were acquitted.
Abel Aziz maintained his innocence throughout the trial and described his prosecution as politically motivated.
He is said to have fallen out with his successor and current President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, who was once his close political ally, the AFP news agency reports.
He is also alleged to have amassed immense wealth during his decade-long rule.
“The trial we attended was a political trial, and its verdict is also very political,” one of Aziz’s lawyers, Mohameden Ould Icheddou, was quoted as saying by AFP.
His lawyers have also said that they plan to appeal against the verdict.