21 November 2012

Cameroon: Djibril Traore receives 12-Year Jail Term fo Misappropriating State Property

The Special Criminal Court handed down its first-ever ruling on Thursday in Yaounde.

Suspense in Hall 2 of the Special Criminal Court was broken about midday yesterday November 21, 2012 as Presiding Judge Eloundou Virginie sentenced Djibril Traore to 12 years imprisonment for fraudulently obtaining and keeping 1,200 metres of earth cables belonging to the State-owned company, Cameroon Telecommunications, CAMTEL on the night of April 18, 2012.

Djibril Traore will also pay to CAMTEL the sum of FCFA 74,551,568 as material damages and FCFA Two million for economic damages, making a total of FCFA 76,551,568. He was also ordered to pay the sum of FCFA 414,572 as legal costs and will suffer 18 years of privation of liberty in case of non-payment. The ruling came at the end of the second hearing of the case that started on Monday November 19, 2012. When the second hearing opened yesterday at about 9.30 am, Malian-born Djibril Traore was called to the dock where, just like on Monday, he reiterated his guilty plea and claimed he did not know he was stealing cables that belonged to CAMTEL.

The representative of the legal department, Advocate General Taghim Jean Claude, pleaded with the court not to consider any mitigating circumstances but should punish Djibril Traore with a life sentence as provided by Sections 74 and 184(1)(a) of the Penal Code. "In addition to being caught in the act, the accused has neither revealed the name of his accomplices nor unveiled the vast network of scrap metal traffickers of which he is an actor since he confessed planning to sell his booty at FCFA 1,800 per kilogramme," he said. He drew the attention of the court to CAMTEL's plight of spending more resources in repairing its vandalised network than investing in improving the quality of its services to subscribers.

Defence Lawyer Bertin Emaha relied on Section 90 of the Penal Code as well as Section 359 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Code in pleading that the court should grant the accused mitigating circumstances. He requested the minimum jail sentence of 10 years for his client. According to him, the accused had no previous encounter with the law and was not used to the kind of theft for which he had been charged, but was just a cooking pots dealer. "Djibril Traore is a family head and father of one who led an organised and well-behaved life. His demeanour throughout the trial was exemplary and he pleaded guilty to the charge," he pleaded.

Djibril Traore was given 48 hours to apply to the Supreme Court for a judicial review of the ruling. He was granted the same heavy security escort to and from the court's premises like other detained personalities who have been appearing in court recently to answer charges for misappropriation of State funds.

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