A press release signed by the Procurer General of the Yaoundé Appeal Court has literally turned earlier scientific views on the cruelest death of Bishop Jean Marie Benoit Balla of the Bafia diocese. The report which stipulates that findings done by forensic scientists of Interpol lead to the lone conclusion that the Bishop died from drowning. The report alluded to by the Procurer opines that after close examination of the corpse of the fallen clergyman, no incriminating evidence of physical violence was found.
This has ever since generated commotion on the minds of close observers who can hardly come to terms with the baffling allegation which ridicules Cameroonian medical expertise which had earlier pronounced that the bishop had a fractured leg and forearm and especially did not have any water in his lungs.
As if this was not enough, the college of Catholic Bishops had earlier pronounced that the death of Bishop Balla from every stand point was an assassination and most of all a murder too much. How in the twinkle of an eye all this should be rubbished is nothing short of the newest wonder of the modern world.
Coming exactly three weeks after the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon Bishops disclosed that Jean-Marie Benoit Bala “did not commit suicide, but was brutally murdered,” many find the release from the Procureur General, Jean Fils Ntamack deeply troubling.
To recall that the Bishops had in a statement to the press declared that Bishop Bala whose lifeless body was found in the Sanaga River on June 2, was brutally assassinate with signs of torture on his body and preliminary autopsies indicating that he was killed.
“Given the initial findings, we, the bishops of Cameroon, affirm that Bishop Jean Marie Benoît Bala did not commit suicide; he was brutally murdered. This is one more murder, and one too many,” read the statement.
In the statement read by the Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference, Rev. Jervis Kewih, the Bishops demanded that all the light be given on the circumstances and motives of the assassination of Bishop Benoît Bala and that the culprits be identified and delivered for justice to take its course according to the law and that the State should assume its duty to protect human life, especially the ecclesiastical authorities.
As the Bishops awaited the official conclusions of the inquiry, they had a word for Bishop Jean-Marie Benoit Bala’s assassins:
“To the murderers, the Bishops pray for them and ask them to embark on a process of urgent and radical conversion.”
The statement included a “sad list of bishops, members of the clergy and consecrated persons assassinated in circumstances still not clear today.”
Among them are Monsignor Yves Plumey, Emeritus Archbishop of Garoua (assassinated in Ngaoundéré in 1991), Father Joseph Mbassi (Yaoundé, 1988), Father Antony Fontegh (Kumbo, 1990), Sisters in Djoum (1992) and Father Engelbert Mveng (Yaoundé in 1995).
“We feel that the clergy in Cameroon are particularly persecuted by obscure and diabolical forces,” the bishops wrote, and urged the authorities to find “the exact causes and the perpetrators of this heinous and unacceptable crime.”
The statement, signed by the President of the Cameroon Episcopal Conference, Archbishop Samuel Kleda Samuel Kleda of Douala called on the government to “shed light on the circumstances and motives of the assassination of Bishop Jean Marie Benoît Bala.”
The letter also addressed the media and those who use social media, saying that they should use “truth, modesty and discernment” when handling the information and not give way to “defamation, lies, calumnies.”
The statement invited the media to have “respect for the dignity of the human person.”
The Catholic Church’s 24 dioceses account for 38 percent of Cameroon’s 20.4 million inhabitants, with Protestants making up 26 percent and Muslims 21 percent, according to the U.S. State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report.
In 2014, the government of President Paul Biya, in power since 1982, signed a framework agreement with the Vatican on the church’s legal status.
Bishop Jean Marie Benoît Bala of Bafia, who was 58, left his residence late in the evening of May 30. He disappeared, and his car was found parked on the Sanaga Bridge near Ebebda, about 25 miles northwest of Obala. His body was found June 2, about 10 miles from the bridge.
A note was found in his car which reportedly read: “Do not look for me! I am in the water.” This gave rise to the belief that he had committed suicide.
A fisherman discovered the remains of Bishop Jean-Marie Benoit Bala in the Sanaga River, near Monatele four days after his disappearance.
However, an autopsy showed that the bishop had not drowned, and there were signs of torture on his body. A medical investigator said there were “signs of torture” on Bala’s body, and indications that he had been dead before ‘entering’ the water.
The recent statement from the state counsel appears to have begged for more questions instead of providing answers. Coutersy: The Voice newspaper