Diack’s son calls French sentences ‘denial of justice’

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — The son of former IAAF President Lamine Diack said Thursday from Senegal that his father’s conviction and four-year prison sentence handed down in France was a “denial of justice.”

Papa Massata Diack, who was also convicted by the French court in absentia and sentenced to five years, condemned the judicial proceedings while addressing journalists in the Senegalese capital, Dakar. Senegal declined to extradite him after an international arrest warrant.

“We have not committed any crime that deserves jail time. Lamine Diack’s integrity has never been lacking,” he said. “What happened in Paris was a denial of justice.”

Lamine Diack was president of the IAAF, now known as World Athletics, from 1999-2015. Papa Massata Diack worked under his father as a consultant for the athletics body. The two men were alleged to have used their positions to enrich themselves to the tune of millions of dollars.

The Senegalese government has not yet reacted to the sentences handed down Wednesday, but many here already have said they thought the sentence was too harsh for an 87-year-old.

“It was easy to feel that the dice were already cast,” said Samba Oumar Fall, a journalist with the state-run Le Soleil newspaper. “Diack does not deserve this punishment considering all he has done for athletics and sport in general.”

Prosecutors say Lamine Diack directly or indirectly solicited 3.45 million euros ($3.9 million) in bribes from athletes, many of them Russian, to cover up their positive doping tests. He also used his authority to enable his son, who he employed as a marketing consultant, to siphon off millions of dollars from sponsorship deals, the prosecutors alleged.

Family friends implied Thursday, though, that he received jail time largely because he is African.

“The family will not be alone in the fight for Lamine Diack’s return to Senegal,” family friend Moustapha Diakhate said. “If Lamine Diack were an American, he would never be imprisoned by the French.”

“Westerners can’t tell us who Lamine Diack is,” said another family friend, Billy Paye. “He is a just man. He is a distinguished African who has always thought of his fellow man. This trial is a charade.”

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