The president of the Gabonese Football Federation (Fegafoot) has been charged in connection with the investigation into allegations of widespread sexual abuse in the country.
Pierre-Alain Mounguengui, re-elected as Fegafoot’s president for a third term on 16 April, was arrested last Thursday after being summoned by Gabon’s general directorate of counter-interference and military security after allegations published by the Guardian this month. After six days in custody, he was placed in pre-trial detention on Wednesday at the central prison in Libreville, a statement from Fegafoot confirmed.
A statement issued on Thursday said: “According to his lawyers, the investigating judge in charge of Pierre-Alain Mounguengui’s hearing in the under-age sexual abuse case in Gabonese football which dates back more than 30 years is on an external mission. His fate will be decided in 10 days.”
It is understood that Mounguengui could face up to three years in prison if found guilty of charges that relate to not reporting alleged sexual abuse by a number coaches to the authorities. There is no suggestion Mounguengui has been accused of sexual abuse himself.
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A Fifa spokesperson said: “The independent Fifa ethics committee has taken note of the additional arrests that have taken place recently in Gabon and is continuing to closely monitor the situation, including ongoing criminal investigation being conducted in the country. As mentioned previously, Fifa remains in contact with several stakeholders and is continuing to seek further information on the matter. Since the matter is currently ongoing, please understand that no further comment can be made at this stage.”
Fegafoot has been leading the investigation into allegations of widespread sexual abuse in Gabonese football since allegations were first made last December. Last month the international players’ union, Fifpro, expressed “deep concerns” over Fegafoot’s suitability to handle the case after hearing testimonies that it said detailed “a series of high-profile and serial abusers, who are deeply embedded in Gabonese footballing structures”.
In light of Mounguengui’s arrest, it is understood that Fifa’s ethics committee is expected to take over the investigation.
Jérôme Efong Nzolo has lodged an appeal with Fegafoot after losing the election to Mounguengui, who he has accused of “flagrant irregularities likely to call into question the final result”.