Cameroon keeps anglophone leaders in custody

2017-06-07 19:01
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Yaound - Cameroon military tribunal decided on Wednesday to remand in custody leaders of the country's English-speaking community on terror-related charges pending trial.

The Yaounde tribunal refused to free on bail lawyer Felix Agbor Nkongho, teacher Neba Fontem Aforteka'a and broadcaster Mancho Bibixy, pending a June 29 trial, an AFP journalist reported.

The court's presiding judge also rejected an appeal for the release of 24 other anglophones facing charges over "acts of terrorism" and complicity to commit such acts.

All charges are punishable by death.

Bernard Muna, chief defense counsel for the accused, told AFP he was disappointed at the tribunal's decision given the public prosecutor had, he said, "not been opposed" to the temporary release of Agbor and Fontem under judicial surveillance.

The accused were arrested in January after the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society consortium (Cacsc) called a strike to promote the rights of the English-speaking minority, which accounts for some 20% of the central African country's 22 million population.

The Cacsc says the anglophone community, mainly based in the southwest and northwest, is marginalised.

Some English-speakers are pushing for a return to federal government while others want to split from the eight French-speaking areas.

Protests in the English-speaking regions began in November amid opposition party claims of police killings and repression.

In December, the government said two people had died during violent clashes between police and protesters in Bamenda, the capital of the northwest region.

The opposition put the death toll at four and reported other victims in the southwest.

President Paul Biya has run the country, which Britain and France partitioned after a period as a German colony after World War I, since 1982.

Read more on:    cameroon  |  west africa

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