Marafa Hamidou Yaya and Yves Michel Fotso appeared before the Mfoundi High Court on July 16.
The Mfoundi High Court in Yaounde has adjourned the hearing of the embezzlement case against former Minister of State, Marafa Hamidou Yaya, former Director General of the defunct Cameroon Airlines, Yves Michel Fotso and four others, to Tuesday July 24.
In pronouncing the adjournment yesterday in a court hall filled to the brim, the President of the College of Judges, Mr. Justice Gilbert Schlick, explained that one week was enough for defence lawyers to get acquainted with the charges contained in the file and also make known their lists of witnesses.
The pronouncement marked an end to the opening of the case whose hearing attracted hundreds of city dwellers from all walks of life as early as 10.00 am yesterday July 16. When Chief Judge Gilbert Schlick declared open the court hearing at 1.26 pm, he unrolled the procedure to establish that of the six co-accused, only Marafa Hamidou Yaya, Yves Michel Fotso and Kounda Julienne had appeared before the court to answer the charges.
On the exchange of the lists of witnesses, the court established that the charges by the State Counsel and the Civil Party (representing the State of Cameroon) had a list of 14 witnesses.
The defence team led by Barristers Patrice Monthe, Abdoul Bagui, Ndiva Kofele Kale, on their part, held that they were yet to establish a list of witnesses because they were not yet acquainted with the content of the file prepared by the prosecutors.
Barrister Monthe mentioned obstacles faced in getting access to the accusation file since April 16 and submitted that the adjournment date be shifted to two instead of one week to enable defence lawyers prepare better. “Let us take enough time to render justice,” he pleaded. The prosecution expressed surprise at the request, saying, “The time has come for the truth to be known in this matter.”
In maintaining the adjournment date for Tuesday July 24 at 11:00 am, Chief Judge Schlick invited both the prosecution and the defence to comply with formalities for arguments to start. “The prosecution’s witnesses will be heard from Tuesday to Friday,” he announced.
Marafa Hamidou Yaya, Yves Michel Fotso and four others are jointly and severally charged by the prosecution and the State of Cameroon with embezzling State funds destined for the purchase of a presidential aircraft, BBJ-2 jet, in 2001. Yves Michel Fotso and Marafa Hamidou Yaya were kept in custody for preliminary inquiry in December 2010 and April 2012, respectively.
Marafa Hamidou Yaya refused to appear before the examining magistrate for a preliminary inquiry after filing an objection with the President of the Court of Appeal for Centre Region, seeking the magistrate’s recusal.