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Ambazonia leader collapses in court as lawyers frustrate new judge

Ambazonia leadermiddle at Yaounde military tribunal

One of the ten detained separatist leaders collapsed in court on Friday during the latet round of hearing forcing the case to be adjourned for April 8.

Barrister Eyambe Elias Ebae passed out just after midday in the court room and was rushed to a medical facility within the premises of the military tribunal where he regained consciousness before returning to his Kondengui cell.

His collapse embodied the tension at the military tribunal between the defense counsel and the new judge Misse Njone who got his baptism of fire in the case.

Misse Njone, transferred from the Bamenda military tribunal to replace Colonel Mem Michel who has been sent to Buea, immediately felt the heat his predecessors have been feeling.

After identifying the detained and reading out their charges, the new judge proceeded to arraign them by asking if they were guilty or not of the charges presented before them.

The Ambazonia leader Julius Ayuk Tabe immediately stepped forward and replied : “I can not answer that question”,  before his lawyers immediately hitback at the judge opposing any move to arraign their clients.

The lawyers argued their clients can not be arraigned by the panel of judges given that two of the assessors( Ngouongue and Edou Mewoutou Armand) had previously been recused and have to be replaced.

The lawyers also argued that they had filed an appeal against the ruling by the previous judge Colonel Mem Michel stipulating the Ambazonia leaders will be judged in Yaounde despite holding refugee and asylum-seeking status. They argued they had filed a mandamus for the Military tribunal to transfer the case file to the Appeal court.

The judge insisted he had seen not seen a copy of the appeal filed although the lawyers insisted they had served the military tribunal with three copies.

The boisterity in the courtroom forced the judge to suspend hearing for an hour in order to reflect on the arguments raised by the lawyers.

The confusion even intensified upon resumption as the lawyers rose in protest after the judge put to question the quality of their appeal.  Five minutes was enough for the judge to forsee the ensuing confusion and he immediately suspended hearing to diffuse the tension and only resumed again four hours later.

It is within this interval that Barrister Eyambe Elias could not resist the heat in the hall and passed out creating tension and panic amongst family members who immediately rushed to give him some first aid befor he could regain his consciousness.

A medical team from the clinic at the military tribunal only showed up thirty minutes later to the dismay of family members and friends.

After further administration of first aid, Barrister Eyambe Elias was ushered to the clinic for intensive care. Despite restriction into his ward, we further gathered that he was given the opportunity to speak with his family on phone which helped ease his condition.

Out at the courtyard, tempers continued to flare as the military prosecutor Colonel Engono Thadée Constant looked visibly displeased with proceedings.

He cautioned members of the defence counsel to be responsible, avoid any necessary blockade and allow the case to take « its normal course ».

« People are dying everyday. Who will pay for all these death(in the North West and South West regions) ? We need to judge this matter as fast as possible, » he told the group of lawyers outside the courtroom.

Four hours later, all were back in the courtroom for the session to resume except Barrister Eyambe Elias who was still on his sick bed.

The judge then adjourned the matter to April 8 arguing the matter can not go ahead in the absence of one of the accused persons.

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