Tycoon held over journalist killing in Cameroon
YAONDE, Cameroon, Feb 6 – A Cameroonian tycoon was arrested on Monday in connection with the high-profile murder of a journalist, sources said.
Radio journalist Martinez Zogo, who was kidnapped and brutally murdered last month, was outspoken against graft and financial sleaze and had often faced threats over his work.
Jean-Pierre Amougou Belinga, owner of L’Anecdote media group, “was arrested… at dawn,” the company said.
Denis Omgba Bomba, head of the National Media Observatory, a unit attached to the communications ministry, confirmed the arrest and said the tycoon had been “named a suspect in the killing of Martinez Zogo.”
A senior official with the gendarmerie, a branch of the police that comes under the authority of the ministry of defence, said Amougou Belinga had been arrested at his home “in the middle of the night.”
He “is currently in the State Defence Secretariat,” a unit of the gendarmerie, L’Anecdote said.
Omgba Bomba told AFP two of the businessman’s associates were also arrested early Monday.
He identified them as Bruno Bidjang, a journalist with Vision 4, a TV channel owned by Amougou Belinga, and Raymond Etoundi Nsoe, a retired colonel and ex-commander of Cameroon’s presidential guard and the tycoon’s father-in-law.
Zogo, 50, was the manager of the privately-owned radio station Amplitude FM and host of a daily show called Embouteillage (Traffic Jam).
He had frequently named Amougou Belinga in his corruption accusations.
The tycoon, reputedly a friend of several ministers, has holdings in banking, finance, insurance and property, as well as L’Anecdote, which owns a daily newspaper of that name and several pro-government TV and radio stations.
Zogo was abducted on January 17 outside a police station in the suburbs of the capital Yaounde, and his heavily-mutilated corpse was found five days later.
Just days before he was killed, he had told listeners about threats he faced.
The murder sparked an outcry, including a protest by 20 leading Cameroonians over the government’s “long tradition of trivialising impunity and accepting atrocities.”
The authorities in Cameroon typically take weeks before commenting on major crimes, but in this case they swifly condemned what they called an “odious crime.”
President Paul Biya, who has ruled Cameroon with an iron fist for more than 40 years, called for a full probe into the murder.
On Wednesday, the government announced that several suspects had been arrested.
The media watchdog Reporters without Borders (RSF) said on Friday that Amougou Belinga was deemed a suspect in the killing. It based this on what it said were written testimonies from those who had been questioned.
A senior minister was involved in the affair, and other ministers may have been informed of it, RSF charged.
RSF’s Press Freedom Index ranks Cameroon a lowly 118th out of 180 countries.
The government has insisted Cameroon is “a state of law, where liberty is guaranteed, including the freedom of the press”.
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