A France-based pressure group, the Committee for the Liberation of Political Prisoners (CL2P) has condemned the Supreme Court’s confirmation of Urbain Olanguena Awono’s 20-year jail sentence
The original jail term was slammed by the Special Criminal Court, SCC, on August 12, 2013. The former public health minister was accused of embezzlement of circa 80million FCFA allocated for the purchase of mosquito nets for an anti-malaria campaign.
According to the Committee for the Liberation of Political Prisoners, the charges against the minister were made up to cover a political motive of the government.
Going by the Committee, the sum of money the minister was accused of embezzling, was entirely received by a certain Yves Soue Mbella through the Treasury Department of the Ministry of Finance. Mbella, the committee wrote in a press release issued today April 4, had admitted to have received the money.
The committee also claims in the release that the Ministry of Public Health never requested transfer of funds from the treasury department to Mbella’s company, Vision SARL which was supposed to deliver the mosquito nets. The release says the payment was not ordered because the company did not supply the requested mosquito nets.
Mbella, the CL2P says, sued the minister, whereas he had received money for goods he did not deliver to the public health ministry’s national program for the fight against malaria. The committee also claims the Vison SARL boss is being protected by some top government officials, suggesting they are the ones using him to victimise the imprisoned former state official.
The pressure group describes the confirmation of Olanguena’s sentence by the Supreme Court as unjust and scandalous. The decision, according to CL2P, attributes to Olanguena Awono a punishment per “erroneous plaintiff who appears to have benefited from the protection of certain hidden forces at the top of the State of Cameroon.”
The committee which also defends the rights of other so-called political prisoners in Cameroon, links former minister Olanguena’s condemnation to reports that some ministers were planning to overthrow President Paul Biya who has been in power since 1982.
Accusing Cameroon for jailing the innocent and ignoring fugitives, the rights organisation also states categorically in today’s release that “his legal troubles originate from the Cameroon secret service notes which made him a member of the G11; a group of young state officials suspected of advocating the alternation to power in 2011”.
The committee also reiterates its stance that Olanguena Awono who has been jail since he was arrested on March 31, 2008, is a political prisoner and calls for his immediate release.