18 November 2012

Cameroon: Second SCC Hearing for Yves Michel Fotso and Ntongo Onguene

After the first session of the Special Criminal Court (SCC) that took place on November 12, 2012, another hearing of the special tribunal that is based in Yaounde will take place this November 19, 2012.

The first case which opened deliberations at the SCC was that opposing Yves Michel Fotso and Ntongo Onguene against the Cameroon Airports Authority (ADC). Both men are being accused jointly of involvement in the embezzlement of state funds amounting to FCFA 316,570,780 and FCFA 230 million.

During the first hearing, the session was chaired by the President of the Special Criminal Court, Yap Abdou and the main focus was the identification of the accused and the publication of the list of witnesses. Although Yves Michel Fotso opted during the hearing to refund the sum of FCFA 230 million, the court first of all wanted him to accept that he was guilty of embezzlement before offering to pay any amount. A second hearing of the case will take place today.

The second matter that will come up for hearing, simultaneously with the first, at the SCC is that of a Malian, Djibril Traoré against CAMTEL and Justice Eloundou Virginie will be the presiding judge. According to the facts of the matter, Djibril Traoré was caught behind a place called le Combattant in Yaounde on the night of 18th breaking 19th of April 2012 stealing CAMTEL cables. Some 3,600 metres of cable estimated at FCFA 74,751,568 million was said to have been unearthed by Djibril Traoré. Inhabitants of the area caught Traoré in the act and immediately called the Rapid Intervention Unit of the Police, ESIR. It will be the first time that the matter will be heard by the Special Criminal Court.

Created by Law N° 2011/028 of 14 December 2011, amended and supplemented by Law N° 2012/011 of 16 July 2012, the SCC in Section 2 (new) says: "The Court shall be competent to hear and determine matters of misappropriation of public property and related offences where the value of the loss is at least fifty million (50,000,000) francs CFA as provided for by the Penal Code and International Conventions ratified by Cameroon." The SCC will therefore not only be involved in matters of embezzlement of state funds, but also cases that have to do with misappropriation of state property that conform to its provisions.

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