Page last updated at 09:58 GMT, Monday, 10 May 2010 10:58 UK

Son of Nigeria's Abacha challenges Swiss $350m order

Nigeria's former leader General Sani Abacha, file image
General Sani Abacha may have stolen more than $2bn when in office

An appeal by the son of Nigeria's ex-ruler Sani Abacha against a court order to return $350m (£236m) in illegally gained assets has begun in Switzerland.

Abba Abacha was also convicted of being a member of a criminal organisation and given a suspended custodial sentence.

Switzerland began investigating the Abacha family in 1999 and has so far handed back about $700m to Nigeria.

Nigerian state lawyers believe Sani Abacha, who ruled from 1993 until his death in 1998, may have stolen $2.2bn.

The appeal started on Monday at a court in Geneva, officials say.

However, Swiss newspaper LeTemps reports that Mr Abacha, who is currently in Nigeria, would not be attending the hearing.

He was refused a visa to come to Switzerland because he did not apply for it in time, the newspaper says.

The Swiss authorities pursued Abba Abacha for six years before extraditing him from Germany in 2005.

He was finally convicted by a court in Geneva in November 2009.

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