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Gov’t, Catholic Church On Warpath Over Bishop Bala’s Death 

By Isidore Abah & Sylvester Atemnkeng

Jean Marie Benoit Balla

Contradictory reports about the real cause of the death of the Bishop of Bafia, Jean Marie Benoit Balla, seem to have landed the Government and the Catholic Church on warpath.

The Bishops of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon, NEC, had in a press conference in Yaounde on June 14, stated that Bishop Bala did not commit suicide, but was brutally murdered.

The Bishops had called on the Government to hasten up with the publication of the report of its investigation on the tragic death of the Prelate and bring the culprits to book.

However, after the Bishops pronouncements, Government swung into action to determine the cause of the Bishop’s demise.

In conformity with the Bishops demand, the Government through the Attorney General of the Yaounde Appeal Court, Jean Fils Ntamack, on July 4, issued an official statement, contradicting the Episcopal Conference June 13 press release that Mgr. Balla was brutally murdered.

The Yaounde Appeal Court Attorney General’s statement is based on an undisclosed autopsy report, allegedly conducted on the remains of the fallen Bishop by experts from Europe.

In the statement, Jean Fils Ntamack, stated that “After initial examination by two teams of local medical doctors on June 2 and 22, 2017, the decision was taken to resort to international expertise through INTERPOL.

The forensic medical doctors sent by INTERPOL for that purpose, namely Professor Michael Tsokos, Director of the Berlin Institute of Forensic Medicine in Germany, and Doctor Mark Mulder, Coordinator of the Disaster Victim Identification Unit of INTERPOL, arrived Cameroon on June 29, 2017.

After close examination, they noted the absence of any traces of violence on the body of the deceased and concluded, in this light, that drowning was the most probable cause of the Bishop’s death.”

Though investigations as to the circumstances under which the Prelate died are still on-going, his remains have been handed over to the National Episcopal Council for burial,” he added.
The statement of the Attorney General has however left many in the wondering aloud.

Many unanswered questions have been raised such as; where was the autopsy report? Why did they refuse a press conference to publish the results of their findings?

As medical ethics prescribe, results of medical examinations are almost all the time presented by medical examiners, why is it that in this case, the Yaoundé authorities refused the medical practitioners from releasing their findings themselves?

News of Government findings took many Catholic Christians in the Southwest Region by storm.

Speaking to The Post, one of the Christians said “what were you expecting from the Government that is at the centre of this assassination case? Of course the Government officials will only try to defend themselves. You cannot be a player and a referee at the same time,” he stated.

According to our source, the death of the Bishop is not unconnected to the plethora of disagreements, which the Prelate had with one highly placed Government officials.

Another Catholic Christian said; “we already knew the outcome of the so called findings before they were even made public. The fact that Government objected to an independent inquiry commission from the Holy See was an indication that something was amiss. You don’t expect one to admit to his- own crime in the market place.”

However, Catholic Christians are unanimous that something urgent needs to be done to avert the brutal killings of ecclesiastical authorities in Cameroon.