Dakar - The flamboyant “super minister” son of former Senegalese leader Abdoulaye Wade went on trial on Thursday accused of accumulating a multi-million dollar fortune through corruption while in office.
Karim Wade, 45, is alleged to have acquired by corrupt means companies and real estate worth almost $240 million (178 million euros) and has been on remand in Dakar for more than a year.
Wade, dressed all in white, told the packed Dakar anti-corruption court in his opening statement that he was a “political prisoner”.
Prosecutors claim the money he made is in tax havens Monaco and Singapore, although his defence claim to have demonstrated that almost half is in a Singapore account which doesn't belong to Wade.
His lawyers say the real amount linked to Wade is closer to $2.7 million, a sum he earned legitimately as a European trader before entering government.
A large crowd gathered at the court to support the defendant including his mother Viviane and several senior political allies.
He arrived, flanked by two prison guards, to chants of “Karim! Karim!” and greeted his supporters with a smile and two arms raised in a gesture of victory.
A number of alleged accomplices are also expected to stand trial, although the number was not immediately clear.