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Guinea to release Italian businessman 'soon'

Roberto Berardi in jail on tax-fraud conviction

01 April, 16:21
Guinea to release Italian businessman 'soon' (ANSA) - Brussels, April 1 - An Italian businessman who is being held in prison in Equatorial Guinea on a tax-fraud conviction is to be released soon, Guinean President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo said on Tuesday. Guinea is "working to find a rapid solution" so Roberto Berardi can be freed, said Mbasogo following a meeting with European Commission Deputy President Antonio Tajani.

The Guinean president announced the 49-year-old businessman's imminent release "for humanitarian reasons", Tajani confirmed.

Neither Mbasogo nor Tajani could give an exact time frame for Berardi's release as this reportedly depended on the finalisation of "details" between Rome and Malabo. Berardi, who set up a construction company in Equatorial Guinea in 2011, was arrested in January 2013 on suspicion of misappropriation and tax fraud and convicted the following August, when he was sentenced to two years and four months in jail. Serious concerns have been expressed for his safety amid reports of alleged torture, prolonged detention in solitary confinement and poor health.