Case Against Agbor Balla, Fontem, Others, Adjourned Again, Defense Lawyers Question Hearing Jurisdiction

The battery of defense lawyers at Yaoundé Military Tribunal during a previous hearing.

By Folegwe II Menky, February 14, 2017

Cameroon Journal, Yaounde – The case against the leaders of the outlawed Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium, Barrister Nkongho Felix Agbor Balla and Dr. Fontem Aforteka’a  Neba, alongside Mancho Bibixy, was again adjourned after it opened yesterday in Yaounde.

Over 200 lawyers stormed the Yaounde Military Tribunal in defense of the three accused for a hearing which lasted over four hours.

The case, initially adjourned on Wednesday February 1, again suffered another adjournment to Thursday March 23, 2017.

According to Barrister Ndong Christopher, one of the defense lawyers, the three accused persons are standing trial for insurrection, rebellion, secession, contempt of state functionaries, trying to change the form of the state, not possessing ID cards, attempting to

incite civil war, amongst others. The charges are contained in sections 102, 103, 104, 111, 112, 114, 115,

Barrister Nkongho Felix Agbor Balla
Barrister Nkongho Felix Agbor Balla

116, 154 and 158 of the Cameroon Penal Code and other provisions of the 2014 law on the suppression of acts of terrorism.

However, the accused, who were said to be in very high spirits during yesterday’s appearance in court, pleaded not guilty, denying all charges levelled against them.

Going by Barrister Ndong, the interpreter who was hired to interpret the charges from French to English was not up to the task. Both parties agreed the interpretation would be managed for the time being while the services of an interpreter versed with legal jargon will be sought for the next hearing.

During the hearing, a team of 10 lawyers, out of the over 200 who stormed the court, constituted themselves into the defense counsel. They took out time to explain to the court that the case was more political than as presented.

Dr. Fontem A. Neba
Dr. Fontem A. Neba

The lawyers recounted the journey the country has covered so far from pre-independence to present day. They told the court that marginalization of a certain group of people was real in the union and that people had the right to express themselves as guaranteed in international and local legislations.

With Barrister Ben Muna as lead counsel, other former Bâtonniers; Patrice Monthe, Charles Tchoungang, Eta Bisong Jr. and Sama Francis, were part of the college of 10 lawyers defending the accused.

The lawyers expressed concerns over the non-availability of the charges in English language, the trial of the accused in Yaounde instead of Buea, and Bamenda where they were arrested and where their alleged crimes are said to have been committed. They equally noted that it did not necessitate a trial as the accused only expressed an opinion on what form of state they believe is good for the country.

The trial was adjourned to give the prosecuting counsel enough time to provide a full list of witnesses. The prosecution had proposed to present part of the list and complete it later, but the defense counsel objected the move, prompting the adjournment.



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