A court in Spain on Friday issued arrest warrants for three people close to Equatorial Guinea’s veteran president, including one of his sons, on suspicion of kidnapping and torturing opponents, Report informs via AFP.

Campaign groups have long accused President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo’s government of arbitrary detentions and torture during his four decades in power in Spain’s former central African colony.

The international arrest warrants from Spain’s High Court target Obiang’s security director Isaac Nguema Endo, his Security Minister Nicolas Obama Nchama and one of his sons, Carmelo Ovono Obiang.

They are suspected of having kidnapped four members of the opposition MLGE3R movement — two of them Spanish citizens — while they were in South Sudan in 2019 and flying them on a government plane to Equatorial Guinea where they were tortured.

The MLGE3R or Movement for the Liberation of the Third Republic of Equatorial Guinea, is based in Spain, from which the African state declared independence in 1968.

One of the dissidents, Julio Obama Mefuman, who had Spanish nationality, died in January 2023.

The MLGE3R says he was tortured and died at a prison in the eastern city of Mongomo but according to the Equatorial Guinea government he died at a hospital from “a disease which he suffered from”.

The High Court opened a probe into the affair after receiving a complaint from relatives of the victims.

Last year High Court judge Santiago Pedraz called Carmelo Ovono Obiang and the other two officials to testify but they failed to appear.

Padraz in January ceded the investigation to Equatorial Guinea on the grounds that there was “no element to conclude… that acts were committed in Spain”.

But the MLGE3R appealed and another High Court judge, Francisco de Jorge, took over and ordered the arrest warrants.

Under Spanish law, courts sit in judgement on cases and can launch investigations into alleged crimes, and refer the case for trial if there is enough evidence.

Equatorial Guinea’s vice president, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue — is another son of preisdent Obiang — accused Madrid of interference after the High Court opened the probe.