Cameroon journalists question colleague's death in US

2010-07-18 10:43

YAOUNDE, July 16, 2010 (AFP) -The National Union of Journalists of Cameroon (SNJC) on Friday cast doubt on the official account of the death of leading journalist Pius Njawe, killed in a car accident in the United States.

The SNJC in a statement expressed "disapproval" of "the disinformation attempt to make believe that Mr Njawe was hit and killed while his vehicle had broken down by the roadside" in the state of Virginia.

"The SNJC consequently urges the American authorities to ensure that the police inquiry is carried out in conditions of professional rigour and transparency (...) so that all light can be shed, as soon as possible, on the tragic disappearance" of Njawe, the statement said.

The union, one of three journalists' unions in the central African country, also urged "the Cameroonian government to use the usual diplomatic channels to transmit" its request to the American authorities.

Born in 1957 at Babouantou in west Cameroon, Njawe, 53, was reported killed on Monday when the car he was travelling in with a nephew broke down and was struck by a truck on a Virginia highway, according to several sources.

The journalist was found "dead without physical injuries or trauma," Le Messager -- the newspaper founded by Njawe in 1979 -- reported on Friday. The paper said that the US police had kept the body for an autopsy.

Njawe is seen as one of the pioneers of an independent press in his homeland. He was often critical of Cameroonian President Paul Biya. In 2009, he stated that he had been arrested 126 times in 30 years.

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