Is Jean-Pierre Amougou Belinga going to be officially charged by the Yaoundé military court? The answer, long-awaited by those following the case, has finally come: the government commissioner has chosen to wait and request an additional investigation to better establish responsibilities relating to the assassination of journalist Martinez Zogo on 22 January.
Belinga and the other suspects had been removed from their cells at the secrétariat d’État à la défense (SED, in charge of the investigation) and brought before the military court at the end of the morning, where they waited all day, accompanied by legal representation as they speculated about their fate.
After hesitating for a long time, the government commissioner decided on the immediate imposition of charges, opting instead for the time being to request the SED to look into certain elements of the case. The accused were then returned to SED custody in the evening.
The boss of the L’Anecdote group was arrested on 6 February, when he was directly implicated by Lieutenant-Colonel Justin Danwe. This executive of the Direction générale de la recherche extérieure (DGRE), who admitted to the investigators about having carried out the operation targeting Zogo, claimed to have acted on Belinga’s behalf.
According to Danwe, the latter was even present during the kidnapping and when the Amplitude FM journalist was tortured.
If Belinga denied these allegations during his police custody, several elements of the investigation, in particular wiretaps and data from the analysis of the telephones of the protagonists, would come to corroborate this version of the facts.
Several relatives also suspected
Several of Belinga’s relatives were also presented before the military court. Etoundi Nsoe, his father-in-law and head of security, former commander of the presidential guard, is suspected of having contributed to the establishment of Danwe’s commando, as is Bruno Bidjang, the man’s right-hand man.
The two men are said to have been responsible for the money transfers that made it possible to recruit the lieutenant colonel of the DGRE and his men.
Three other individuals caught the SED’s attention and were therefore also brought to justice: Jean-Claude Fouda Abega, a close associate of Belinga’s, Yannick Nkili, the latter’s aide-de-camp, and a man known simply as “Jacob”, an aide-de-camp of the tycoon’s wife, Melissa.
On the side of the DGRE, Justin Danwe was also brought before the same military tribunal, as was the director of external research, Léopold Maxime Eko Eko, placed in police custody at the same time as his subordinate. If the latter denies having been aware of the operation, he is suspected of having, at the very least, given his approval.
A turning point for the Zogo case?
Will this request for further investigation allow the case to take on a new dimension, almost a month after Zogo kidnapping and murder? Already closely followed in Yaoundé, especially in Etoudi by the secretary general of the presidency Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, it could take an even more political turn. While in police custody, Danwe reportedly cited the name of the Minister of Justice, Laurent Esso.
As a heavyweight of the government and former secretary general of the presidency, he would have been in communication with Belinga on the night of January 17 and 18, when Danwe’s team had just carried out the journalist’s kidnapping. Neither the Keeper of the Seals nor the government spokesman René-Emmanuel Sadi has spoken on the case.
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