Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)

20 November 2012

Cameroon: Djibril Traore Pleads Guilty in Special Criminal Court

Djibril Traoré, a Malian-born artisanal cooking pot maker based in the Mokolo neighbourhood of Yaounde, yesterday November 19, 2012 at the Yaounde-based Special Criminal Court, pleaded guilty to charges of unearthing and misappropriating 1,200 metres of optical fibre cable belonging to the public telephone company, Cameroon Telecommunications, CAMTEL.

The cable's worth was estimated at FCFA 74 million, justifying the competence of the Special Criminal Court which hears cases of misappropriation of State property worth over FCFA 50 million.

Djibril Traoré's guilty plea was recorded during the first hearing in the case between him and the State of Cameroon, represented by the Legal Department that held yesterday at the Special Criminal Court. The verdict will be heard tomorrow Wednesday, November 21, 2012.

Before a college of judges presided over by Justice Eloundou Virginie and comprising Justices Nyoh Mathias Dinga and Hayatou Dahirou, the representative of the legal department, Advocate General Taghim Jean Claude, unrolled the facts, saying on the night of 18th breaking 19th April 2012, the accused was caught with stolen cables by the Rapid Intervention Unit of the Police, ESIR.

Upon preliminary inquiry and before the Examining Magistrate, it was established that Djibril Traoré was in the business of producing artisanal aluminium pots called "Macocotte" since 2001. On the morning of April 18, 2012, Djibril Traoré set out with an unidentified accomplice to search for raw material as they usually did. Behind the area called "Le Combatant," they identified earth cables and resolved to come back under the cover of the night to unearth them and extract copper - a raw material for his pot-making business. Both finished digging just before 8 pm and were about to board a cab with their booty when Djibril was apprehended. Meanwhile, his accomplice fled.

For Taghim Jean Claude, the fact that the property belonged to CAMTEL, a state-owned company, qualified it as State property, thereby making the accused liable of misappropriation of State property as clearly outlined in Section 184 of the Penal Code, read alongside Section 74 of the same Code. "CAMTEL suffered damages in this matter. The guilty plea of the accused and the Examining Magistrate's committal order show that the offence was committed," said Barrister Jovite Serge Ambombo, representing the Nomo Beyala Law Firm, counsel for the State of Cameroon.

However, Djibril Traoré's lawyer, Barrister Emaha, submitted to the court that the guilty plea of his client be converted to a not guilty plea since the element of fraudulent intention was absent as required by Section 184 of the Penal Code. Reminding the counsel that his view could not be contrary to the will of his client, Presiding Judge Eloundou Virginie ruled for the guilty plea to be recorded and fixed the verdict hearing for tomorrow, Wednesday November 21, 2012. The hearing lasted just thirty minutes.

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