Michel Fotso Counsel Challenge Detention Warrant

The trial of Yves Michel Fotso, the former General Manager of the defunct Cameroon Airlines, Camair, on the alleged embezzlement of FCFA 18.9 billion, holding at the Yaounde-based Special Criminal Court, SCC, took another twist on Wednesday March 4, 2015. Two new French lawyers who just joined his defence team pointed out alleged irregularities in his continuous detention.

Barristers Dominique Inchauspe and Benedicte Graule, from Cabinet Jones Day, Paris, who joined Barrister Michael Wolgang Buhler from the same chambers, and other Cameroonian colleagues, argued that the two charges against their client ought to be fused into one. Taking the floor, Barrister Dominique Inchauspe, demonstrated how a temporary detention warrant in the case of trial of Fotso was an exception, not the rule. He noted that according to the Cameroon Criminal Procedure Code, such a warrant can only be extended for a maximum period of 12 months, giving a total of 18 months in detention.

According to Barrister Benedicte Graule, the continuous detention of their client was a violation of Cameroon law and other international statutes assented to by the country. This, she explained, was because the current temporary detention warrant against Yves Michel Fotso expired on April 22, 2014. Consequently, their client ought to be legally free, though he is serving a 25-year jail term for his role in the failed purchase of the BBJ presidential jet.

On his part, Michel Fotso, complained to the president of the trial team, Mr. Justice Moukoury Francis, of his alleged poor treatment in prison. He said his family members and counsel were not given unhindered access to him, describing it as ‘torture’. In response, Justice Moukoury urged Fotso’s counsel to ensure that his detention rights were respected. Concluding their observations, the counsel for the former Camair GM asked for proceedings to be suspended for about two hours to give time to Aocates General Taghim Jean Claude and Ngoupa Napoleon to respond.

Ruling on the matter, Mr. Justice Moukoury, who was assisted by Mr. Justice Jean Claude Michel Nana and Mrs. Justice Zibi Nsoe, explained that the prosecution needed more time to respond. He then adjourned the trial to March 18, 2015 at 8 a.m. Yves Michel Fotso, it would be recalled, on November 6, 2014, pleaded not guilty to charges of fraudulently obtaining FCFA 18.9 billion from 2000 and 2002. The suit, filed by Camair’s Liquidation Committee and the State of Cameroon, concerns FCFA 4,051,209,866, FCFA 4,606,130,515, and FCFA 8,934,203,742, all compensation for the famous Boeing 747 ‘Combi’ aircraft as well as FCFA 1,400,000,000, the worth of the wreck of the aircraft.

Source : Cameroon Tribune

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