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Cameroon set to launch trial against Radio France International (RFI) journalist, Ahmed Abba

Yaounde-The trial of Ahmed Abba, the Hausa language correspondent in northern Cameroon and Northeastern Nigeria for Radio France International, RFI, continued at the Yaounde Military Tribunal on Wednesday, August 3, 2016. Hearing the matter was Mr. Justice Edou, assisted by Col. Jotsa David and Lt. Col. Ayang Clement. Prosecuting was Major Ndzie Pierrot Narcisse. The trial began on February 29, 2016, but had not made much progress.

Arrested in Maroua on July 30, 2015, Abba was later charged with terrorist collusion and failing to report terrorist acts to the authorities. The charges are punishable under Articles 74, 97 and 107 of the Penal Code and Law Number 2014/028 of December 23, 2014. He pleaded not guilty to the charges at Wednesday’s hearing. Presenting the case, Major Ndzie Pierrot said the prosecution will use one witness, Dr Ben Bidjocka, a computer expert, instead of the five initially announced. He explained the change to difficulties in contacting other witnesses who are far-off.

During preliminary inquiry, Ahmed Abba, according to his sworn statement, admitted having contacts with Mohammed Boukar, an avowed Boko Haram member who used to call him. On one such occasion, Boukar announced an imminent attack on Cameroon, which came to pass. In a transcribed telephone conversation with Abu Kataga, another Boko Haram member, portions of which were read in court by Ndzie Pierrot, Kataga claimed reasonability for the abduction of French nationals and the seizure of three truckloads of food. He also admitted planting a mine on a road used by the Rapid Intervention Battalion, BIR, which killed some soldiers. All this, the prosecution alleged, the accused did not report to the authorities. The exhibits were tendered and accepted in evidence.

Counsel for Ahmed Abba, Barristers Charles Tchoungang and Nakong Clement, reacted by pointing out that their client was arrested on July 30, 2015 and his statement only taken on November 13, 2015, more than three months after. They noted that this was against the law. Tchoungang made it clear to the court that contrary to the law, his client was never assisted during preliminary inquiry, reason why the sworn statement was not signed by any counsel for the accused. After heated arguments between counsel for the accused and the prosecution over several details on how the trial should proceed, the matter was adjourned to September 7, 2016, for continuation of hearing.

Cameroon Tribune

Concord Newsdesk

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