Placed in police custody since 6 February, Jean-Pierre Amougou Belinga is now a hunted man. A team of detectives, under pressure from the Cameroonian public opinion and the international community, is scrutinising his actions day and night.
He is suspected of having ordered the kidnapping, isolation, torture and murder of journalist Martinez Zogo. If he has been ostracised by part of the political class, many of whom had no choice but to take advantage of his extravagance, the boss of the group L’Anecdote has nevertheless managed to hold onto his supporters, mostly allies, who were with him in his heyday.
They include heads of state, several of Paul Biya’s close associates, and a host of the government’s most powerful ministers and securocrats who had virtually privatised the state security services for his benefit.
Not to mention the small hands of the capital’s bureaucracy, who are determined to remain loyal to him no matter what horrors he is accused of. This self-taught man’s all-consuming ambition led him to infiltrate the nuclear heart of Biya’s state apparatus. It is for this reason that the fall of this voluble, extrovert, arrogant and devious businessman, who recorded his conversations with his interviewees, led to a regime crisis.
If he falls, Belinga will take with him part of the system that has helped him throughout his career. The head of Cameroon’s counter-espionage unit, Léopold Maxime Eko Eko, is already one of his neighbours in detention. Laurent Esso, minister of state for justice and a pillar of the regime, may also be asked to testify. This would be a blow to Biya, who has had Esso as his ward since 1982.
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