Cameroon: Noose Tightens On Amougou Belinga As Business Tycoon Is Transferred To Kondengui

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Jean Pierre Amougou Belinga, owner of Groupe L’Anecdote

BUEA, March 6 – Cameroonian businessman Jean Pierre Amougou Belinga has been charged with complicity in torture, in the murder of journalist Martinez Zogo, a case that has attracted national and international attention with calls for a smooth investigation, a month after he was arrested.

Businessman Amougou Belinga was transferred from a detention centre and officially charged in Kondengui prison in the capital Yaounde on Saturday, said Ines Arielle Zamo Belinga, spokesperson for his business group Groupe L’Anecdote. “Now lawyers take over,” she said in a statement, without giving further details as reported by Reuters.

Belinga’s lawyer said his client was “not charged with the murder of Martinez Zogo,” adding: “It is only an indictment, the judicial investigation has only just begun.”

The owner of Groupe L’Anecdote which also consist of Vision TV said he “was placed under a detention order… at the main prison in Kondengui” after being “presented before an investigating judge at the military court,” a media group he owns said in a statement.

Arsène Salomon Mbani Zogo, better known as Martinez Zogo was abducted on January 17 outside a police station in the suburbs of the capital Yaounde, and his mutilated corpse was found five days later. Days before he was killed, Zogo, who was the manager of the privately-owned radio station Amplitude FM and host of a daily show called Embouteillage (Traffic Jam), had told listeners about threats he faced.

The Committee to Protect Journalists has urged Cameroon authorities to be transparent over Zogo, and also account for the death of another journalist in government custody in 2019.

The Cameroon Journalist Trade Union in a release published on January 22 stated that “Beyond this colleague, we are all now vulnerable. Where are the Freedom of the Press, freedom of opinion and freedom of expression in Cameroon when exercising in a media now entails a mortal risk? Too many limits have been crossed. This is unacceptable!”

According to International Press Institute (IPI), there are signs of apparent progress in the investigation. “However, these initial arrests and interrogations of suspects are only a first step on the path to justice. Cameroonian law enforcement must deliver on this initial progress and ensure that all those involved in this crime – including the masterminds, regardless of their position or prominence – are held to account,” IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said.

Martinez Zogo was abducted in Nkol-Nkondi, a district in the outskirts of Yaoundé on January 17

Leopold Maxime Eko Eko, head of the General Directorate for External Investigations (DGRE) and its director of operations, Justin Danwe, are among those suspected, a communication ministry official told AFP on the condition of anonymity, alongside other official sources who also requested confidentiality.

The Committee to Protect Journalists Africa Program Coordinator, Angela Quintal welcomed the move of the arrests. “It is a welcoming sign that Cameroonian authorities are conducting an active investigation into the killing of journalist Martinez Zogo, which has included the recent arrest of businessman Jean-Pierre Amougou Belinga,” Angela Quintal said

“Authorities must ensure that this investigation is conducted transparently and openly, so all can see that those responsible for Zogo’s murder are fairly held to account.”

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