Friday September 6, 2019, marked the start of the public hearing at the Yaoundé military tribunal of the case between the state of Cameroon and the National President of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM) party with his political allies.
Expectations were high as many were anxious to witness the trial given that the accused have been challenging the competence of the military court in trying them coupled with numerous calls from rights groups, and international institutions for the political leaders to be freed.
There was a suspense hours before the trial, when officials started preventing the media and public from going closer to the court premises not to talk of the court room, given that the detainees of the Yaoundé Central Prison in Kondengui had earlier threatened to boycott the session should access to the military tribunal is denied to their militants, fans and media.
Surprisingly, Maurice Kamto, Alain Fogue, Christian Penda Ekoka, Albert Dzongang, Paul Eric Kingue, Celestine Djamen, Valsero, Barrister Michelle Ndocki and over 75 others arrived the military tribunal.
Serious business started at exactly 12:03 when the President of the military tribunal (main judge in the case), madam Abega Mbezoa epse Eko Eko opened the case amid a tense atmosphere in court with the detainees chanting victory songs as if to minimize the competence of the court.
Minutes into the hearing, an incident occurred in court, one of the accused, Christian Penda Ekoka collapsed and his medical treatment lasted for a while pushing the court to go on recess.
After discovering that the malaise was serious and the victim transferred to a hospital in town, the President of the tribunal had no option than to adjourn the case until October 8, 2019 for the case to continue in the presence of all the accused.
Another challenge was security wise as militants and sympathizers came in from other regions to assist in the hearing.
Security forces were actually at work, the security disposition was maximal, a security barrier prevented vehicles and commuters from accessing the over 500 m stretch of road in front of the military tribunal from “rond point Intendance” to the “Jaco roundabout”.
That alone could not contain the anxious public, reasons why gendarmerie and police officers were stationed all over the above sites with some in their combat attires and vehicles ready for any eventuality.
On day one of the trial, some scribes and militants of the CRM were arrested as they tried to force their way into the court, but they were later released.
It should be noted that most of the militants were forced to retire prematurely after a communiqué from the military court adjourning other cases of Friday September 6 was misinterpreted as if the Kamto’s affair was pushed forward.
Present in court Friday was the National President of the CPP party, Edith Kah Walla, and scribes of the network for human rights in Central Africa, REDHAC.