Dozens of RSF activists and Vamoulké supporters participated in the street event outside the embassy with balloons, candles and a cake, but no song. The victim of a judicial and political conspiracy, Vamoulké has been held for the past three and a half years on a trumped-up charge of misusing state funds while he ran the state radio and TV broadcaster from 2005 to 2016.
Despite the absence of any evidence to support the charge, his trial has dragged on for 42 months, much longer that the 18-month legal limit on provisional detention in Cameroon and the nine-month limit on the duration of a trial before Cameroon’s Special Criminal Court.
For the past six months, he has been suffering from an illness that two neurologists have described as “severe” in medical certificates, copies of which were given to the press covering today’s protest.
During a visit to Vamoulké in prison last November, RSF saw how, in the absence of proper treatment, he had been reduced to trying to treat his pain with the vitamins he had bought. Judges had rejected a request by his lawyers, supported by RSF, for him medevacked abroad to receive treatment.
A year after writing to President Biya, RSF has written to him again asking him to bring this journalist’s “ordeal” to an end “before it is too late.”
The next hearing in Vamoulké’s trial, the 27th, is scheduled for 25 February.
Cameroon is ranked 131st out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.