The King of Swaziland tried to get a court in Canada to drop a case against him involving an alleged unpaid debt of US$3.5 million because he was a head of state.
But the court in Ontario dismissed his plea and the case went ahead.
The case would not have been allowed to take place in Swaziland, because King Mswati III, who rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, is above the law. Both the Swaziland Constitutionand a directive from Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi, who was appointed by the King, give the monarch immunity from any lawsuit in respect of all things done or omitted to be done by him and this applies also to any claims made indirectly against the King.
The case in Ontario, Canada, involves a Swazi company called Inchatsavane, which has King Mswati as its sole shareholder. It is alleged that Inchatsavane owes a company called SG Air US$3.5 million for the cost of refurbishments made to the King’s private jet. The legal owner of the jet is Inchatsavane.
The plane has been attached for unpaid debts by the courts in Canada since January 2015.
A Canadian newspaper, Embassy News, reported that lawyers for the King’s company Inchatsavane claimed in court it was ‘entitled to immunity from the jurisdiction of any Canadian court’ under the State Immunity Act.
The newspaper reported the court concluded that the case was about commercial activity rather than the King’s role as a head of state and was not covered by the Act.
The case is continuing in the Ontario Court of Appeal and the next hearing is scheduled for 11June 2015.
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