At least ten people have spent their first weekend at the Kondengui maximum security prison in connection with the brutal murder of Cameroonian journalist, Martinez Zogo.
Business mogul Jean-Pierre Amougou Belinga-the boss of the Annecdote Media Group, the man who was largely rumored to have commandeered the murder of the journalist was charged with “aiding and abetting torture” of the journalist.
Mr. Amougou Belinga had already spent 26 days locked up in the cells of the Secretariat of State for Defense. All his close collaborators who were locked up with him were freed and their cases dismissed, with the notable exception of Bruno Bidjang, a journalist and General Manager of Mr. Amougou’s media group who, despite being freed, will still have to appear in court.
The head of the General Directorate of External Research (DGRE), Maxime Eko Eko, was also charged, as were Lieutenant Colonel Justin Danwé and several people suspected of being part of the commando group that participated in the assassination of Martinez Zogo.
They are being prosecuted for “shadowing”, “kidnapping” and “torture”.
“The Government Commissioner of the Yaounde Military Court, Commander Cerlin Belinga, after having carefully read the preliminary investigation report produced by the Joint Gendarmerie-Police Commission, has found that there are enough corroborating clues to remand Lieutenant Colonel Justin Danwé and all the elements of the DGRE in custody,” explained Polycarpe Xavier Atangana, a human rights activist who was present at the Military Court.
No one has, however, been formally charged for murdering Martinez Zogo. It seems then that the courts will be hearing cases of witnesses to the murder, and not the murderer (s), although the investigation is almost complete, and the trial should begin in six months.
There are suspicions that the trial may go nowhere, given the suspected involvement of very high-profile personalities. Reporters Sans Frontiers had said with utmost certainty that the Cameroon Justice Minister, Laurent Eso gave orders that the journalist should be murdered.
“We must finish the job,” Eso is reported to have told Zogo’s torturers and eventual murderers. Eso has never publicly denied the charge or even commented on the issue. And he has never been called up for questioning.
Martinez Zogo, Director-General of urban radio station Amplitude FM, went missing on January 17, and his mutilated and decomposing body was found on January 22.
He was an outstanding voice in the fight against corruption, and many in high places weren’t always comfortable with his 11 am program “Emboutillages” in which he denounced graft.
His killing sparked international outrage, with several calls on his assassins to be brought to book.
The International Press Institute, a Vienna-based press freedom organization, urged Cameroonian authorities to “promptly investigate the horrific murder of journalist Martinez Zogo and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.”
The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay also condemned the killing and called on the government “not to let this crime go unpunished. Journalists play an essential part in nurturing and upholding democratic governance. They deserve every necessary protection.”
And the head of Reporters Sans Frontiers, Sub Saharan Africa Desk, Sadibou Marong said there were “many grey areas regarding the circumstances of his brutal abduction.”
“The authorities must launch a rigorous, thorough, and independent investigation to establish the full chain of responsibility and the circumstances that led to this sad event,” he said.
RSF had called the murder “a state crime.”