Cameroon: Singer Lapiro de Mbanga loses appeal court

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Cameroon:
Lapiro de Mbanga loses appeal court

Cameroon power system strikes back at the popular singer. “It seems obvious that he has not got a fair trial,” says Freemuse programme officer.

Press alert by Freemuse — 25 June 2009

An appeal court in Cameroon last night, on 24 June 2009, sentenced popular singer Lapiro de Mbango to three years imprisonment in what continues to be a power struggle between the repressive government of Cameroon and one of the popular voices of the people.

The court ruling came after nearly ten hours of nerve wrecking waiting for the singer, his lawyers and the huge crowd who attended the court in support of the singer who has critisized the president of Cameroon, Paul Biya, for misuse of power.

“I had hoped that I would leave the court as a free man,” said Lapiro to Freemuse, “but I expected the worst.”

The fact that the three judges took several hours to rule their decision was according to Lapiro a proof that the actural rule came directly from the Ministry of Justice and that the judges were just waiting to receive the verdict from the Ministry.

“This is a political case, and I can now only hope of justice at an international court,” Lapiro told Freemuse.

Criticism of constitutional change
Lapiro de Mbaga was arrested in April 2008 after riots over the cost of living and a constitutional change that will allow president Paul Biya to run for a new term in 2011.

He was convicted in September last year to three years imprisonment for looting, unlawful gathering and blocking the public highway at Mbanga, 50 kilometres (30 miles) from Douala, the economic capital and one of several towns swept by riots that claimed more than 40 lives according to the official toll.

Lapiro has been sharply critical of Biya, who has been in power for 26 years. De Mbaga ran unsuccessfully as a candidate for the opposition Social Democratic Front in 2006 local elections.Sections of the media in Cameroon have condemned the case taken against Lapiro as a politically motivated attack designed to silence criticism.

Appeals
Freemuse and other international organisations have been campaigning for a fair trial.

“We have appealed to the European Commission and other international bodies to discuss the case with the government in Cameroon,” said Ole Reitov, Freemuse programme manager.

“It seems obvious that Lapiro de Mbanga has not got a fair trial, and we will continue campaigning for this.”



Lapiro de Mbanga in court on 24 June 2009



Lapiro enters the court room

Photos: by Jen Bell, Freemuse




Lapiro de Mbanga in court on 24 June 2009


Read interview with Lapiro

Commentary:
Lapiro is the one who has to pay for all

Click to listen to Lapiro's song on MySoace.com


Click to listen to Lapiro’s song on MySpace.com

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