February 13, 2017
Summary of the session today.
The session started at 10.50 when the presiding judge came in and declared the session open.
She asked if the state counsel had any special observations and he simply introduced the team with which he was working.
Then Barrister Akere Muna gave his opening word, note that he did mention that about 25 years ago he was in that same court with some other colleagues to defend another lawyer Yondo Black who was involved in a political case that had to do with multipartism. He also said federalism and multipartism was a similar thing. Given that we also have freedom of speech in Cameroon it is unheard of that people face a trial for exercising that right as citizens.
The suspects were called ahead Bibixy, Fontem and Mballa. The judge then went ahead to ask for the interpreter to be brought forward and take the oath that was done.
Then holden charge was read in french. Every body wanted to hear it in English. So the interpreter was asked to translate. There was a big problem. His opening words showed how incompetent he was. So he kept making mistakes and Batonier Sama who could not take it like other lawyers spoke up. He revolted against that kind of interpretation and asked the interpreter to do his job properly. It was generally agreed that he was not good enough so the judge asked for the case to be adjourned so a better one could be gotten.
So batonier Tchoungang said the process could go on while another be looked for later. And the three suspects agreed to that. The state counsel said two things. One he has received all three in his office all and they are perfectly bilingual and that brought some murmuring in the hall… I might be perfectly bilingual but I have the right to be judged in the language am most comfortable in. Then secondly he proposed that one of his collaborators translated but the president said to save time she won’t have to allow another take oath so the will manage the former.
Then the lead counsel Akere introduced his colleagues whom had been selected to plead because over a hundred lawyers constituted cannot talk so ten were selected. Then not all ten took turns to talk but three and Batonier Eta Besong in his first few lines asked the President and her accessories if they were ready to render justice or they were ready to follow orders from above. Batonier Tchoungang said it is a symbolic and historic case cos it’s like history repeating itself and also concerns two key towns Buea and Bamenda the former being the place of celebration of the 50th anniversary of Cameroon and the latter being the birth place of multipartism in Cameroon.
The counsel for prosecution also raised the fact that the suspects were judged out of their natural environment and that was making their procedure so difficult. The state counsel took his turn and said the military tribunal in yde has a national competence. Because some of their supposed crimes involve attack on state security and terrorism. So the president gave room for the prosecution to present their witnesses. The state counsel presented a list of supposed witnesses and civil claimants and said he was still investigating to see if there are any more. Note that per article 370 and 414 of the criminal procedure code when debate starts you can’t introduce any more witnesses. How in the first place did the case come to court if there are no witnesses and civil claimants … that was supposed to be taken care of at the level of preliminary inquiry if not there is no case. Note that the procedure has been greatly violated in many incidents. But the moral of the suspects are very high which is a good thing. The session ended at a few minutes pass two and was adjourned to the 23 of march for the prosecution to produce witnesses.
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UPDATES FROM YAOUNDE MILITARY TRIBUNAL
February 13, 2017
post by Chris B.
Barrister Balla Agbor and Co court case adjourned to 23rd March. Resistance is our duty as we keep the struggle.
Earlier today …
The military court hearing started since 10 am. The court session is attended by over 120 lawyers both Francophones and Anglophones in a strong show of solidarity. There was some commotion in the hall as the lead counsel of Balla and co Barrister Muna rejected the reading of the charges in French. The person doing the translation was so poor that the lead counsel had to stop the translation. Our sources say this very aspect highlighted the very move why our leaders were arrested in the first place- trying “Anglophones” in a court and system which is not theirs.
Ghost towns intensify tomorrow.