Albatross Affairs: Marafa’s Casefile Still Not Available to Defense Counsel. Who is Afraid of What?
Marafa Hamidou Yaya, ex- SG at the Presidency of the Republic and former Minister of Territorial Administration detained since April 16 for investigation in connection with embezzlement of funds meant for the purchase in 2003 of a plane for President Paul Biya was last Monday July 16, for the first time, arraigned before the Mfoundi High Court.
But surprisingly hearing could not begin because Marafa’s defense team led by US-trained lawyer, Professor Ndiva kofele Kale raised strong objection that, they had not yet received the case file to enable them prepare their client’s proper defense.
Based on the objection, the presiding magistrate adjourned the matter for trial to Tuesday July 24, before which day it was thought the Marafa defense would have had the case file from the legal department. The judge also instructed both the prosecution and the defense to communicate to each other the names of their witnesses.
But ever since the instruction of the presiding judge, the Marafa defense team has not been able to have the case file, despite sustained efforts to lay hands on the case file, The Recorder has been reliably informed.
The question legal pundits now ask is: Who is afraid of what?
Unfortunately some media organs have alleged that the Defense has had the case file. However, The Recorder succeeded in reaching Lead defense counsel Professor Kale by phone last Wednesday evening for clarification. Just returning from SED Yaounde to confer with his client Mr Marafa ,Barrister (Prof) kale stated that, “As of now that I am talking to you this Wednesday evening, we-the Defense have not got the case file.”
He expressed uncertainty as to whether what was brought in Court on Monday July 16 was actually the case file.
“Without the case file from the people of Cameroon-who are the ones prosecuting, how can we prepare our client’s defense?” Barrister (Prof) Kale asked rhetorically.
He hoped the Marafa defense would succeed to get the case file by Friday July 20, since the matter is supposed to come up on July 24.
“The Defense team cannot be ready for the matter if we don’t have the case file.To be ready, we must have the case file”, said Professor Kale, who during his first press briefing as Mr.Marafa’s lead counsel and banking on his extensive research on economic crimes, said “Marafa is not an economic criminal”
It is not clear from our findings why the legal department is allegedly delaying to hand the case file to the Marafa defense.
But the delay is only fuelling suspicion that the Government may have some “hidden agenda”, especially as Mr. Marafa is said, in some quarters, to be a political detainee, an allegation the Presidency of the Republic has since refuted.
Marafa was first detained at the Yaounde Central Prison upon his arrest last April 16, but when he started sending out sensitive and attention-catching open letters to President Paul Biya and to Cameroonians concerning matters of public interest, he was on May 25, in the early hours of the evening transferred to the SED (Secretariat d’Etat à la defense) lock-up in Yaounde.
The Defense holds that Mr.Marafa’s detention conditions violate all United Nations (UN) minimum standards on the treatment of pre-trail detainees.
It’s likely that the July 24 trial will not go on if the Defense by then has not had and studied the case file.
Christopher Ambe | July 19 2012 | The Recorder