Comoros Ex-Leader Held Over Passport Sales Demands Lawyer Access

(Bloomberg) -- Former Comoros President Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi appealed to the Supreme Court to be granted unrestricted access to his lawyer to defend himself in a corruption case.

Comoros authorities jailed Sambi in August on charges of corruption, embezzlement of public funds and forgery related to the sales of Comoros passports. A parliamentary report found the scheme deprived the Indian Ocean archipelago as much as $971 million.

Comoros Ex-Leader Held Over Passport Sales Demands Lawyer Access

Sambi, who ruled Comoros from 2006 to 2011, wants the court to grant him the freedom to communicate with his legal adviser without a policeman being present to listen to their conversation, his lawyer Mahamoudou Ahmada told reporters Tuesday in the capital, Moroni.

“I have never been able to talk to my client” without a policeman being present since his arrest, Ahmada said. “I hope there is a positive outcome so that I can prepare his defense.”

The passport scandal dates back to 2008, when Comoros began a program, with the cooperation of the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, to offer citizenship to stateless individuals from Gulf countries, Agence France-Presse reported in August. In return, the country would receive investment from the oil-rich countries.

Some of the passports were purchased by Iranians, a number of whom were involved in industries targeted by international sanctions, Reuters reported in July.

Sambi has denied any wrongdoing.

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