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Lawyers Claim Yves Michel Fotso Is Victim Of Injustice 

By Yerima Kini Nsom

International lawyers defending the former Provisional Administrator of the defunct Cameroon Airlines, CAMAIR, Yves-Michel Fotso, have accused the Special Criminal Court of denying their client justice in the case he was charged with embezzling public funds.

Barrister Dominique Inchgauspe, a Franco-American lawyer, Benedicte Graule, a lawyer in the Paris Bar, and Michael Buhler, a German lawyer, made the accusation at a press briefing in Yaounde last week. The lawyers told reporters that it was enigmatic that, after their client accepted to pay back the money he was accused of having embezzled, the court instead ordered for the blocking of his accounts.

According to Article 12 of the Special Criminal Court, the court may stop prosecution of an accused person who has paid back the amount of money he or she is being accused of having embezzled; in the respect that Yves Michel Fotso paid circa FCFA 1 billion to the State in 2012, and promised to continue paying the rest.

But his lawyer said they were shocked when, instead of allowing their client continue paying the rest of the over FCFA 1 billion, the court instead ordered for the blocking of his accounts in 2013. They said, after he started paying the money, they expected the Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals to order a stop of the proceedings.

After his accounts were blocked, the lawyers narrated, their client proposed that the State could take some of his property, including his houses in Bandjoun in the West Region in compensation for the remaining amount of the money. But the State insisted that it wants only the money, knowing fully well that his accounts have been blocked. The lawyers said, by making it difficult for Fotso to pay back the money and regain his freedom; the court was denying their client justice. To them, the case is mired in irregularities that are eroding justice from their client. They said it was abnormal that the very person who was the auditor at CAMAIR when Fotso was the Provisional Administrator from 2000 to 2003, was the very person appointed as the liquidator of the company.

The lawyers said it was unacceptable that their client is being tried in two different proceedings handled by two different judges on basically the same charges. They said their client has paid 40 percent of the amount of money he was accused of embezzling. They said what is expected to pay now in order to be left off the hook of justice a little over a billion.

Meanwhile, the lawyers have also written a petition to the President of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Daniel Mekobe, taking exception to the appointment of Justice Jean Pierre Mvondo Eveo’o and Justice Jean Claude Robert Foe as President and member of the specialised organ of the Supreme Court, respectively. They said the two judges can never be impartial because they were part of the prosecution that sentenced Yves Michel Fotso in the first case in 2012, at the
Mfoundi High court.

They hold that the appointment of the judges is in violation of the Cameroonian law and many international treaties. Going by them, any panel chaired by Justice Jean Pierre Mvondo Eveo’o on the Yves Michel Fotso case, can never be independent.

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