However, Hellens alleged Vanara had known Bongo was a lawyer and asked him during the February meeting whether a review of legislation by the justice committee - on which Bongo served - could be extended to expunge old criminal complaints against citizens.
Vanara testified Bongo had told him in February that he remembered the parliamentary lawyer telling him about a domestic abuse case laid against him by his wife, and asking whether he could help him with that.
Vanara said he told Bongo at the time he did not know him and had never met him before.
Hellens alleged Vanara told Bongo he had come home drunk one night and assaulted his wife and she had laid a criminal complaint against him.
Vanara denied Bongo’s version, saying the incident happened in 2014 after he and his family watched a soccer World Cup match on television. An argument ensued between him and his wife and he pushed her, prompting her to open a case. A court had referred the matter to mediation, and it was quickly settled.
Hellens argued the only way in which Bongo could have known about the existence of the case was if Vanara had told him about it.
Vanara suggested that as state security minister, Bongo may have been able to access a person’s criminal history. Alternatively, he suggested Bongo could have gone to the police station and asked for the information.
“I wouldn’t know how Mr Bongo knows about that, save for that it was public record. He was minister of state security. He had the machinery of state security at his disposal. Whether he used it or not I can’t say,” said Vanara.
He said there would be no reason for him to confide about the incident to Bongo even if they were friends because Bongo only became an MP in May 2014 and by the following month the matter had been finalised.
“There is literally no basis for me to go to him with this matter,” said Vanara.
Hellens said, “You wanted the very memory of this incident expunged,” - but Vanara disagreed.