More than nine months after the gruesome discovery of the lifeless body of radio host Martinez Zogo on the outskirts of Yaoundé, the investigation is still underway at the military tribunal. Various parties involved in the case have their expectations regarding the progress of the inquiry.
Nine months after the discovery of Martinez Zogo’s body in the village of Ebogo, fourteen individuals have been indicted, mainly on charges of “complicity in abduction and torture.” Thirteen of them have been placed in provisional detention. Among the accused is the head of the General Directorate of External Intelligence (DGRE), Commissioner-Divisional Léopold Maxime Eko Eko, who has been in prison since late January. However, he has neither been removed from his position nor suspended to date.
Having been interrogated by the examining magistrate in August, he now awaits a confrontation with one of his subordinates, another accused in the case, Lieutenant Colonel Justin Danwe, who served as the Director of Operations at the DGRE. “It is essential for our client to be promptly confronted with Mr. Danwe so that what our client declared before the joint investigation commission and before the gendarmerie can be reiterated,” states Attorney Seri Simplice Zokou, one of Eko Eko’s lawyers. His position is clear: he is not connected to this case. Initially, Mr. Danwe had stated that Mr. Eko Eko had nothing to do with this matter.”
This desire for confrontation has been expressed multiple times by DGRE’s legal representatives to the examining magistrate at the military tribunal in Yaoundé, Florent Aimé Sikati II Kamwo. Several requests for temporary release have also been made, all of which have been denied.
Since the grim discovery of Martinez Zogo’s body on the morning of Sunday, January 22, the Cameroonian gendarmerie conducted an initial investigation, followed by another inquiry conducted under the auspices of a joint police-gendarmerie commission established on the instructions of the head of state, Paul Biya. Magistrate Sikati took over the case in April, as the initial examining magistrate assigned to this case was relieved of duty.
The lawyer representing Martinez Zogo’s family, Attorney Calvin Job, believes that the investigation is progressing at a “normal pace” for a case of “exceptional complexity.” However, he has been waiting for several months for the examining magistrate to respond to three requests, the questioning of journalists who received threats and intimidation during the same period as Martinez Zogo, an examination to determine which act of torture among those endured by Martinez Zogo led to his death (two autopsies have already been performed), and the reclassification of the charges.
Currently, no one in this case has been indicted for murder or assassination. “For a deceased person, we cannot settle for a ‘complicity in torture’ charge,” emphasizes Attorney Calvin Job. Martinez Zogo died as a result of the multiple abuses inflicted by his tormentors. The natural progression should be towards a charge of premeditated murder.”
For the family and friends of the journalist, the wait has been agonizing. More than nine months have passed, and they still do not know when they can arrange the funeral for their departed loved one. According to legal regulations, the examining magistrate at the military tribunal in Yaoundé has a maximum of 18 months to complete their work before issuing a dismissal or an indictment to transfer the case to a trial court for proceedings to be organized.