Case against Amadou Vamoulké baseless, French lawyers tell Cameroon court
Two French lawyers presented evidence to a court in Cameroon yesterday which they said showed the charges against Amadou Vamoulké, the jailed former head of the state-owned national radio and TV broadcaster CRTV, were unfounded and should be dropped.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the authorities to end the judicial conspiracy against the 71-year-old journalist and release him.
The case has become bogged down in procedure. Amadou Vamoulké has been held for almost five years without trial and this was the 68th hearing, unheard of for a Cameroonian journalist.
French lawyers Benjamin Chouai and Fabrice Epstein, who joined the defence team, presented the Yaoundé court with rulings by four French courts against the accountant selected to audit the accounts of CRTV under Vamoulké’s leadership between 2015 and 2016. The documents disclosed unpaid invoices and that both of his French companies had been wound up. It seriously cast doubt on this expert's legitimacy and eligibility to audit one of the country’s biggest state enterprises.
Up to now, his report has formed the basis for much of the case against Vamoulké, who is accused of misappropriating millions of euros in public funds for the benefit of CRTV.
“These factors show once again that the charges against this journalist are a sham,” Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk said. “It is further confirmation that the legal aspects of this case are a smokescreen designed to silence the head of a large television station whose independence of mind and professionalism are seen as a threat to some government interests.
“This monstrous frame-up, which has been crushing the life of this journalist for five years, must stop. RSF urges the Cameroonian authorities to release Amadou Vamoulké. He has no place in prison.”
The trial is taking place in breach of national and international law. Alerted by RSF, the United Nations called for the release of the journalist a year ago, declaring that his detention had “no legal basis” and serious violations of his right to due process meant his detention was of an “arbitrary character”.
He suffers from a neurological condition and is at serious risk of contracting Covid-19. Several of his cellmates have been diagnosed with the virus and hospitalised in recent weeks.
Cameroon has fallen one place to 135th out of 180 countries in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index published by RSF.