A lawyer, a teacher and a radio broadcaster appear before the military court in Yaoundé along with 25 others arrested in the anglophone parts of the country. In those areas that claim to be marginalized by the central government, today ghost towns operations have succeeded the demonstrations, but anger and frustration are still there. Leaders, on the other hand, are accused of terrorism and risk the death penalty.
This will be the eighth hearing for English-speaking leaders and their lawyers hope to finally discuss the substance of the case, for example how these personalities find themselves accused of acts as serious as terrorism or incitement to secession.
To date, the hearings have dealt with procedural matters. The defendants all pleaded not guilty and it is now known that they will remain in prison during the trial as the judges rejected their request for release. It remains the substance of the case.
In principle, the first witness or witnesses must be heard on Thursday 29 June. There are about ten of them, military or gendarmes stationed in the English-speaking parts of the country. Each of these witnesses will be questioned by the prosecutor and then by the defense lawyers.
According to lawyers who want to speed up the process: at this rate, with an audience every seven or eight weeks, says Assira, the trial is likely to last four years. He therefore planned to request a blocked session. This means a series of hearings as a result, three days in a row would already be an advance for lawyers. But until now, the military tribunal has rather seemed to want to take its time.
Another Cameroonian personality arrested at the height of the anglophone crisis, is Paul Ayah Abine, magistrate of the Supreme Court, retired three weeks ago and detained since late January at the secretariat of State for Defense. His lawyers demanded his acquittal by stating that his arrest did not take place under the conditions prescribed by law. A first request was rejected, and the second is still unanswered. Nearly two months after the lawyers’ appeal, the Supreme Court said it still did not receive the case.