November 2022 | Former President Sambi convicted of ‘high treason’
On 28 November Comoros’ State Security Court sentenced the country’s former President, Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi, to life in prison, after convicting him of ‘high treason’ for his role in a corrupt passport sale scheme. The scheme, which was purportedly established to fund development in Comoros, was found by a parliamentary commission to be illegal and its revenues to have been embezzled. The commission suspected Sambi and his successor, former President Lkiliou Dhoinine, to be responsible for the embezzlement. According to the prosecution, Sambi embezzled $1.8 billion (USD). Official corruption convictions are rare in Comoros, and some, including the human rights NGO Alkarama, have suggested that there was political interference in the legal proceedings brought against Sambi, who is a political rival of serving President Azali Assoumani. Such concerns make it difficult to determine whether Sambi’s conviction signals improved accountability for official corruption in Comoros or a deterioration in judicial independence and access to justice.