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Military court merges trials of consortium leaders, supposed protesters

The Military Tribunal, Friday, took a decision, ordering the case of Fontem Neba, Nkongho Agbor and Mancho Bibixuy, to be joined with that of 24 other supposed activists arrested in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon.

The Yaounde Military Court authorized the ‘commissaire au gouvernement’ to link the cases of three leaders of the Anglophone protest, Fontem Neba, Nkongho Agbor Balla and Mancho Bibixy, being tried for terrorism and rebellion, to the trial of 24 citizens arrested for offences equally related to the on-going protests in the North West and South West regions.

Justice Abéga, announced the joinder of proceedings on Friday in favour of a request put forward by the state prosecutor on Mach 23. The request had been rejected by the counsel of the detainees. They had argued the two cases had insufficient connection to qualify for a joinder.

The ‘commissaire au gouvernement’ for his part had attempted to justify his request by referring to Article 6 of the Criminal Procedural Code. The article provides that the joinder of procedures is compulsory in cases of indivisibility and optional in cases of connectivity.

Indivisibility is said to exist in a case  involving many suspects or accomplices in the same offense; where there is a close relationship between several offenses committed by the same person, one cannot be judged without the other and when offenses committed at the same time have the same purpose.

Connectivity, on the other hand, is when the offenses were committed at the same time by several persons acting together; when offenses have been committed by different persons, even at different times and places, but as a result of a conspiracy; When an offense has been committed, either to facilitate the commission of another, or to ensure the impunity of the latter. ”

The 24 young people were arrested in Bamenda, Buea, Tiko and Kumba. They are being tried for hostility against their homeland, contempt of state officials, rebellion, and degradation of public property, gang robbery and co-action in acts of terrorism.

The decision rendered by the judge on Friday has been criticised by the defense. “It’s a complication for the defence because now defendants have been increased to 27, whereas we had only three in the file. The goal of the court is to complicate the defence because the case had reached a juncture where people have been waiting for witnesses for a while. We do not know who the witnesses will be for the other 24 people. “Tchoungang, one of the defending lawyers said at the end of the hearing.



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