Ahmed Abba, a journalist with Radio France International was on Monday sentenced to 10 years in prison by a Cameroonian military tribunal on terrorism charges. He was arrested in 2015 and charged with acts of terrorism and failing to report acts of terrorism to authorities. Abba could be facing the death penalty, his lawyer said. Abba was also ordered to pay a fine of 55 million CFA Francs ($90,000) and barred from speaking to the media about the trial.
In a swift reaction, Amnesty International condemned the trial, raising the question as to whether military courts had competent jurisdiction for trying civilians. “Ahmed Abba’s conviction, after torture and an unfair trial, is clear evidence that Cameroon’s military courts are not competent to try civilians and should not have jurisdiction in these cases,” said Amnesty International’s Ilaria Allegrozzi.
In recent times, the serving president of the central African country, Paul Biya has repeatedly come under international criticisms for alleged human rights violations. including during the suppression of protests in Cameroon’s two western English-speaking regions.
The court had been told that evidence was found in Ahmed Abba’s computer showing he had been in contact with Boko Haram Islamist militants and that they had communicated information to him about future attacks. Abba’s lawyer said he would appeal the sentence. Since his arrest in July 2015, Abba has denied the charges preferred against him under an anti-terrorism law which was passed in 2014.
1. Aljazeera 2. Reuters