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Cameroon22 July 2005

Newspaper editor freed after being held for two weeks

Reporters Without Borders today welcomed the release of Le Front editor Joseph Bessala Ahanda yesterday, two days after a delegation of journalists met the director of criminal affairs at the justice ministry.

"The end of this arbitrary imprisonment is good news for Cameroon’s journalists," the organisation said.

Ahanda was arrested on 6 July pending trial in connection with three reports he published about the alleged embezzlement of 300 million CFA francs (457,000 euros) by Maurice Bayémi, the head of the Cameroon postal services, Campost, and his associate, Jean-Pierre Amougou Belinga, the owner of the Anecdote press group.

Ahanda is still due to stand trial. No date has yet been set for a hearing.

08. 07. 05 Newspaper editor detained for investigating corruption

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the detention of Joseph Bessala Ahanda, the editor of the weekly Le Front, since July 6 and accused the Cameroonian authorities of arresting him for investigation embezzlement. "We support the committee formed to press for Ahanda’s release and we call on prosecutor Abena Protais to free him at once," the organisation said.

After being arrested by police officers from Yaoundé’s 7th district police station on the morning of 6 July, Ahanda was taken before the prosecutor at 11 a.m. and then transferred at 5 p.m. to Kodengui prison. He is still held pending a court appearance for which no date has been set.

He has been placed under judicial investigation and, according to William Mandio of Le Front, who heads the support committee, he could spend several months in prison before appearing in court.

Ahanda published three reports about the alleged embezzlement of 300 millions CFA francs CFA (457,000 euros) by Maurice Bayémi, the head of the Cameroon postal services, Campost, and his associate, Jean-Pierre Amougou Belinga, the owner of the Anecdote press group. The reports led to Bayémi’s dismissal.

Ahanda was abducted and beaten in May by individuals allegedly working for Belinga. He filed a complaint with a doctor’s report on his injuries, but the authorities took no action. The support committee, which consists of several newspaper editors, intends to press for his release at an appointment next week with the prime minister.

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