10 Cameroon secession activists to remain in custody

Thursday December 6 2018

Leader of Cameroon separatist movement Julius

Leader of Cameroon separatist movement Julius Ayuk Tabe. A Cameroon military court on December 6, 2018 resolved to continue detaining him and his co-defendants accused of terrorism, secession, civil war and revolution. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By NDI EUGENE NDI
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A Cameroonian military court Thursday resolved to continue detaining some 10 activists accused of terrorism, secession, civil war and revolution.

The judge, Col Abega Mbezoa Eko Eko, ruled that the hearing will continue on January 10, 2019.

He said the court needed more time to update a list of witnesses and properly serve the defence in the death penalty trial.

The trial of the president of a separatist movement pushing for the secession of minority English speakers, Mr Julius Ayuk Tabe and nine others, who were arrested in Nigeria and extradited earlier this year, opened in Yaoundé, with the defence raising several objections, including against one of the state lawyers and a list of witnesses by the prosecution.

In defiance

According to the defence, the list of witnesses was served to them on the eve of the hearing, in defiance of the five days legal provision.

“We were a little bit disappointed with the ruling, but we were not disappointed with the adjournment,” lead defence lawyer Fru John Nsoh said.

“The judge ruled that the list of witnesses will be resubmitted when hearing resumes, but that is not the law. We will see that sometime during the process,” the senior advocates of the Cameroon Bar Association explained.

According Barrister Ndong Christopher of the defence team, the defendants had been informed that they would be charged on 10 counts, that are punishable with a death penalty under a controversial anti-terrorism law.

Deeply disturbing

Mr Tabe and his co-defendants were among 47 English-speaking activists extradited to Yaoundé, where they were held incommunicado for 10 months at the State Defence Secretariat (SED), before being granted access to lawyers, according to Mr Nsoh.

Prior to their extradition, Mr Tabe and the co-accused had been "held in secret" at a hotel in Abuja, according to Amnesty International.

The human rights advocacy group said the activists were at risk of “unfair trial before a military court and the deeply disturbing possibility of torture” in Cameroon.

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