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Senegal's ex-'minister of heaven' jailed

A six-year jail term has been imposed on Karim Wade, the son of Senegal's former president. The flamboyant 46-year-old ex-London financier had denied enriching himself while holding up to five cabinet posts.

A special Senegalese court jailed the son of former president Abdoulaye Wade on Monday, concluding that he had hidden away funds in offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands and Panama.

"The facts before us constitute illicit enrichment by Karim Wade, said judge Henri Gregoire Diop as the verdict was announced. Wade was also ordered to pay a 138 billion CFA franc (210 million euro) fine.

Opposition supporters in the courtroom protested the verdict for Wade, who on Saturday had been picked by the opposition Senegalese Democratic Party as its candidate for the western African nation's next presidential election. It is likely in 2017.

Five ministries

Karim Wade had a finance career in London before returning home in 2002. He ended up controlling five ministries during his father's presidency, earning himself the nickname of "minister of heaven and Earth."

The younger Wade was a divisive figure in Senegalese politics in the

run-up to the presidential election in 2012

, with many believing his father - who ruled from 2000 to 2012 - was trying to line him up to succeed him.

Current president Macky Sall, whose

victory in 2012

ended Wade senior's rule, warned last week that he would not tolerate destabilization attempts following the court's decision.

Harassment?

Sall's government had denied Karim Wade's claim that he had become the victim of a political witch hunt. Wade had been in custody since April 2013. In January this year, he spent four days on hunger strike to protest his detention conditions.

One of Karim Wade's lawyers was arrested last week, allegedly for hinting that a conviction would result in the overthrow of President Sall.

Two years into his term, Sall's popularity has faltered amid complaints that he has not done enough to improve the lot of ordinary Senegalese.

ipj/jr AFP, Reuters, AP)

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