Yaoundé: Former CRTV General Manager sentenced to 12 years in prison 0

Amadou Vamoulke, the former general manager of the Cameroon Radio and Television Corporation (CRTV), was sentenced Tuesday, December 20, 2022 to 12 years in prison by the Special Criminal Court and he was also fined 47 million FCFA.

Vamoulké spent six years in detention without being convicted on any charge-a situation described by Reporters Without Borders as falling far below even the most basic standards of justice and human dignity.

Adjourned 90 times, his trial is the longest to have been held as part of the anti-corruption drive known as Operation Sparrowhawk that the Biya Francophone government launched in 2006.

Arrested on 29 July 2016, Vamoulké was the subject of two distinct grotesque proceedings on charges of misusing public funds as general manager of the Cameroon Radio and Television (CRTV) – charges for which absolutely no evidence and no witness has ever been produced by the prosecution.

The denouement lasted more than 16 hours, before the reading of a 600-page document that provided a detailed account of the trial since the beginning in 2016.

Amadou Vamoulke was found guilty of embezzlement of the sum of 617.5 million FCFA in coaction with the former Minister of Finance, Polycarpe Abah Abah, who was sentenced to 17 years in prison.

The former general manager of CRTV was arrested and remanded to Kondengui Central Prison in 2016. He stayed there for six years before his fate was finally decided this week. Despite multiple calls for his release by the NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF), nothing was done.

Depicting the Special Criminal Court established to prosecute alleged corrupt government officials and the several Alibabas responsible for pilfering from the public treasury as President Biya’s court is no misnomer.  Cameroon Concord News Group calls it the President’s court because it is one instrument of power through which President Biya is reining in on perceived opponents from within his CPDM power conduit.

An attribute of a genuine court is the fairness of the trial proceedings in cases which are brought before the court. It is not the number of convictions entered against accused.  A court is legitimate and recognized as such because of its exercise of judicial, executive, legislative and administrative independence.  A court that is independent must be accessible to all citizens after all, is equality before the law, not a constitutionally protected value? The Special Criminal Court is lacking in these attributes of impartiality, judicial independence and accessibility.  It is perceived more as the President’s Court than a Court of Justice.

Establishing this court was President Biya’s way of saving himself the embarrassment of being humiliated during his perennial trips abroad as the President of the most corrupt countries in the world.  This ranking of the country as the most corrupt or one of the most corrupt countries had a potential to hamper President Biya’s personal pecuniary interests far from the borders of Cameroon.  There was therefore a personal interest need to establish the court.  Another personal interest need was to avail himself of a legal tool under his direct control to consolidate absolute power, blackmail potential rebels and competitors within the system and to stifle any form of institutional opposition. He perceived the court as a tool with which to whitewash his more than thirty years of corrupt governance and the rape of the economy.

With the war against Boko Haram, the fight against corruption using the Special Criminal Court has afforded Paul Biya justification contest in the next institutionally flawed elections in order to eternalize power purportedly to direct the war against terror and the war against corruption.  True to the name the President’s Court, Biya has exclusive preserve in referring cases to the Special Court and the power to terminate them. He decides who will be arrested, who will be investigated and who will serve time and who will not.

In one instance, he ordered a detained Minister Bapes Bapes released from remand custody at Kondengui when a warrant was issued for his arrest without the presidential fiat.  Cameroonians want the rule of law to be the guarding principle on which justice is administered in the name of the people.

By Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai