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New Charges Pending in Martinez Zogo Case, Judge to Decide on Murder Indictments

New Charges Pending in Martinez Zogo Case, Judge to Decide on Murder Indictments

Paru le jeudi, 29 février 2024 13:48

In the ongoing legal proceedings surrounding the death of radio host Martinez Zogo, the government commissioner at the Yaoundé military court has issued supplementary orders to the examining magistrate. Lieutenant-Colonel Cerlin Belinga has requested a re-characterization of the charges for five defendants. The commissioner has proposed that Lieutenant-Colonel Justin Danwe, former director of operations at the counter-espionage agency DGRE, and Martin Savom, mayor of the commune of Bibey (Haute-Sanaga), be charged with “complicity in murder”. Three commando members implicated in the abduction and torture of the Amplitude FM station manager are to be charged with “assassination”, according to preliminary investigations.

However, the requalification of the charges has not yet been approved by the examining magistrate, Pierrot Narcisse Nzié. “Five people under investigation have been notified of a request to reclassify their charges to murder and complicity to murder. People thought it was a reclassification, but after speaking with the investigating judge, he explained to me that the public prosecutor had simply filed additional charges to indict these five people under this new classification,” said lawyer Calvin Job.

This approach is based on Article 145 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which allows the public prosecutor to request the examining magistrate to take any action deemed necessary to ascertain the truth, including bringing new charges. “Nothing is definite at this stage, and he (the examining magistrate) still has the option of rejecting the request with an order of refusal, or accepting it,” Job added.

These supplementary requisitions represent a significant advance in the judicial procedure. Under anonymity, a magistrate expressed surprise at the initial charges of “torture, complicity in torture, failure to render aid, aggravated arrest and sequestration in coaction and violation of instructions in coaction” brought against the defendants, given the facts reported in the investigations of the judicial police officers. The government commissioner’s approach aims to align the charges with these facts.

The Government Commissioner’s new demands follow a recent development in the case. On December 13, 2023, the President of the Republic appointed Pierrot Narcisse Nzié as examining magistrate at the Yaoundé Military Court. Five days later, Colonel Jacques Baudouin Misse Njoné, President of the Tribunal, appointed Lieutenant-Colonel Pierrot Narcisse Nzié to succeed Lieutenant-Colonel Sikati Kamwo, who had previously overseen the case.

Investigating judge Sikati Kamwo was relieved of the Martinez Zogo case following a judicial imbroglio. In early December, leaked documents revealed that this senior officer had signed an order for the release of two key defendants in the case: businessman Jean Pierre Amougou Belinga and Léopold Maxime Eko Eko, former head of counter-espionage. Both are suspected of having ordered the journalist’s murder. Despite a series of denials, the two accused remain in custody.

Ludovic Amara  


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