Zacchaeus Fornjindam Trial: Supreme Court Fixes Ruling For November 1, 2016
The former GM of the Cameroon Shipyard and Industrial Engineering was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2012 for embezzling about 350 million FCFA.
The appeal hearing in the corruption trial of Zacchaeus Mungwe Fornjindam, the former General Manager of the Cameroon Shipyard and Industrial Engineering, CNIC, continued in the Supreme Court yesterday, October 18, 2016. The last hearing held on January 19, 2016. Fornjindam was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2012 for embezzling about 350 million FCFA by the Littoral Appeal Court.
After listening to the report of one of the Justices commissioned to study the appeal, Mr. Justice Mvondo Evezo'o, President of the Specialised Bench of the Supreme Court, gave the floor to Barristers Baombe Paul and Djoubairou Ousmanou, counsel for Fornjindam. They both argued that under Article 144 of the Penal Code, embezzlement must be proven by retaining or obtaining money. In the case of their client, they said, this was never proven.
Concerning conflict of interest because payments worth 214 million FCFA were made to a supplier, Logisco, which belonged to a CNIC staff member, the lawyers said the cheques were issued in the name of the Director of Logisco, who was not Louta Samuel, the staff member. It was only after investigations by the police that it was discovered that Louta endorsed and cashed the cheques, they disclosed. Moreover, they pursued, all prior audits of CNIC between 2003 and 2006 cleared management of any embezzlement – including that of the Supreme State Audit Office, the highest authority in the domain in Cameroon.
Zacchaeus Mungwe Fornjindam said the Audit Bench of the Supreme Court recently audited the accounts of CNIC from 2003 to 2006 and concluded that there was no mismanagement. However, the CNIC Financial Secretary revisited accounts he had earlier audited and cleared management – accounts, which were endorsed by the Board of Directors - to now say there was embezzlement. This is the matter that took him to court.
Advocate General Ngatcha Esaïe called for the case to be declared null and void and referred to the Special Criminal Court for continuation. He said the Littoral Appeal Court did not respect due process as the rights of Fornjindam under Article 366 of the Penal Code were violated. Mr. Justice Mvondo Evezo'o later fixed ruling for November 1, 2016. Meanwhile, Fornjindam faces at least two other corruption trials at the Supreme Court, including an appeal against a life conviction.