Cameroon bishops to sue for colleague's death

Tuesday July 18 2017

The late Cameroonian Catholic Bishop of Bafia

The late Cameroonian Catholic Bishop of Bafia Diocese Jean-Marie Benoit Balla. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

NDI EUGENE NDI
By NDI EUGENE NDI
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The Catholic bishops in Cameroon will file a lawsuit for the suspected assassination of their colleague, the National Episcopal Conference said.

The bishops’ statement, issued on Monday, said they “will constitute a civil party and file a complaint against ‘X’ for assassination of Mgr Jean Marie Benoit Balla,” the Bishop of the Bafia Diocese.

The church maintains the clergyman was “brutally assassinated”, despite a government autopsy report that attributed his death to drowning.

Bishop Balla, 58, disappeared from his residence on the night of May 31 and his body was later extracted from the Sanaga River near Yaoundé, in the presence of administrative and religious leaders.

The experts

An analysis on the body of the cleric conducted by the director of the Berlin Institute of Forensic Medicine in Germany, Prof Michael Tsokos, and the coordinator of disaster identification unit of Interpol, Dr Mark Mulder, concluded that “drowning was the most probable cause” of his tragic death.

The Attorney-General at the Centre Court of Appeal in Yaoundé, Mr Jean Fils Ntamack, said the experts “noted the absence of any traces of violence on the body of the deceased”.

But colleagues of the deceased questioned the authenticity of the report.

The corpse

“We the Bishops maintain our position that Bishop Jean Marie Benoit Balla was brutally assassinated," the Archbishop of Douala and the President of Cameroon Episcopal Conference, Mgr Samuel Kleda, said.

He said the church had proofs of the assassination, but “it was not yet time to publish”.

The Catholic Church in Cameroon officially received the corpse of the prelate at the Yaoundé general hospital on Monday.

A funeral has been programmed for August 2-3 in Bafia in the Centre Province.

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