By Kristin Davis| July 13, 2010| The Virginian-Pilot ©|
CHESAPEAKE – A man killed in car crash on Interstate 664 Monday was a renowned Cameroonian journalist arrested dozens of times for criticizing the government there.
State Police confirmed this afternoon that Pius Njawe Noumeni, 53, died when a tractor-trailer rear-ended the car he was traveling in near the Bowers Hill interchange about 3 p.m.
Njawe had arrived in the U.S. July 9 and was on his way to Chesapeake to see his daughter, Sgt. R.W. Walker said.
“It appears the car was stopped, but we don’t know the reason yet,” he said.
The car’s driver was taken to Norfolk General Hospital with critical injuries but was conscious and talking Monday evening. The driver of the tractor-trailer, identified as 64-year-old John Moore Jr. of Chesapeake, was also taken to the hospital. His injuries were not considered life-threatening, Walker said.
The crash stalled traffic for more than three hours.
Njawe was the founder and owner of Cameroon‘s oldest privately-owned, independent newspaper, The Messenger, according to the International Press Institute, which named Njawe one of 60 World Press Freedom Heroes in 2000.
He was 22 when he founded The Messenger, said Alison Bethel McKenzie, the institute’s deputy director. His newspaper was banned multiple times in the 1990s, and Njawe was forced into exile in 1992 after receiving death threats, according to a biography on www.freemedia.at.
Njawe returned to the west African country a year later and founded the Cameroon Organization for Press Freedom, the website says. He was arrested again in 1997 for “spreading false news” and sentenced to two years in prison. He served 10 months before he was released and pardoned.
Njawe’s wife was killed in 2002 when the car she was traveling in near their home in Cameroon was side-swiped, McKenzie said. Njawe later founded an organization to promote safe driving, she said.
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