Four Cameroonian soldiers were sentenced to ten years in prison on Monday and another two years for the “murder” in 2015 of two women and their two children, full of bullets in the northern part of the country.
Two women with blindfolds, as well as a girl and a baby who were executed summarily by soldiers. This scene, filmed in 2015 far north of Cameroon and broadcast on social networks, had caused a real scandal.
On Monday, September 21, five years after the facts, Yaoundé’s military court sentenced five soldiers to prison for “murder”. The government initially denied involvement of its army before arresting seven suspects. All had pleaded guilty but only two were acquitted.
The drama took place in 2015 in the city of Zeleved, far north of Cameroon, where the Nigerian jihadist group Boko Haram and a dissident branch have increased deadly attacks in recent years against civilians and the army.
A very real “fake news”
When the video went viral on social media in 2018, President Paul Biya’s power, at the helm of Cameroon since 1982, as well as the military firmly denied the involvement of their soldiers and spoke of “fake news” and “terrible tricks”. But he withdrew in August 2018 and announced the arrest of seven soldiers.
On Monday, September 21, the Yaoundé court announced its verdict after many postponements of the trial.
Three soldiers, Ciriaque Hilaire Bytlaya, Jean Tchanga and Barnabas Donossou, were found “guilty of collusion” before being sentenced to ten years in prison.
The same sentence was handed down to Captain Étienne Fabassou, head of the accused at the time of the facts, was found guilty of “complicity in the murder”.
A fifth soldier, Ghislain Ntienche, was sentenced to two years in prison for “violating instructions” in the same case.
Captain Fabassou’s lawyer has already announced that he intends to appeal. According to him, the legal proceedings were not followed because “from the investigation to the trial phase through legal information, the recipients of the victims have never appeared and were not heard”.
The attack in the Far North is boko Harams or Iswap (the group of the Islamic group in West Africa, according to its abbreviation in English), which has increased in recent years, very deadly attacks on soldiers and civilians in this region of Cameroon as in the border regions of Nigeria, Chad and Niger, on the shores of Lake Chad.
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International human rights organizations also regularly condemn abuses and crimes committed against civilians by security forces in Cameroon, in the Far North but also in the two regions in the North West and South West.
In these two mainly English-speaking regions, the army has been fighting for armed independence groups for three years.
In February, three Cameroonian soldiers were accused of “killing” at least 23 civilians, according to the UN, including ten children, in a village in the English-speaking areas of Ngarbuh, a massacre that sparked international outcry and forced them to acknowledge their soldiers’ responsibility. have denied it for a long time.
The Boko Haram uprising began in 2009 in northeastern Nigeria before spreading to neighboring countries, Cameroon, Niger and Chad. Since that date, more than 36,000 people (mostly in Nigeria) have been killed and 3 million forced to flee their homes, according to the UN.
In 2016, the group was divided into two branches: the faction led by its historical leaders, Abubakar Shekau and Iswap, affiliated with the Islamic State.
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