Singer Lapiro de Mbanga released from prison

Singer Lapiro de Mbanga was released from New Bell Prison in Douala on Friday 8 April 2011 at 2 pm after three years imprisonment under harsh conditions.

The release was not expected before Saturday morning, but as Freemuse called the singer on Friday afternoon to hear about his expectations he said:

“I have two news for you. A good one and a bad one. Which one do you want to hear? The bad one is that I will not released tomorrow. The good news is that I’m already out of prison now,” he said, followed by a big laugh.

Local media and friends of Lapiro had prepared to greet the singer on his release Saturday morning, but therelease was not publicized, and immediately after the release there was confusion amongst local media.

A spokesman for New Bell Prison had told a reporter that Lapiro de Mbanga was just being transferred to a prison in Lapiro’s home town, Mbanga.

Lapiro de Mbanga, however, confirmed his release in a phone call to Freemuse at 16:10 pm.

May still face security problems Marie Korpe, Freemuse Executive Director, said:
“We celebrate with Lapiro and his family. We’ve worked for his release for almost three years in collaboration with many good colleagues and sister organisations. But we will continue to observe closely what happens to Lapiro de Mbanga. We know that he may still face security problems and we hope that we will be able to retain his career as soon as possible”

Followed closely internationally
Believed to be imprisoned three years ago for his song ‘Constipated Constitution’ critisising President Biya of Cameroon, Lapiro’s case has been followed closely internationally and last year a petition was made to the UN for arbitrary detention.

Freemuse has collaborated with Freedom Now, International Pen, Mondomix and his guitar provider Vigier Guitars.

Lapiro de Mbanga was the winner of the Freedom to Create Prize in 2009. He received the prize when Freemuse visited him in Cameroon on Music Freedom Day 3 March 2011.


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