Barrister Ndiva Kofele kale and Distinguished Professor of Southern Methodist University (SMU) Dedman School of Law in the USA, who was lead defense counsel in the trial of Marafa Hamidou Yaya,former Secretary-General at Presidency of Cameroon, has insisted that Cameroon is bound to respect the UN ruling that his client be set free from his 20- year jail term.
|Barrister, Prof Kofele kale|
Marafa in April 2012 had been slammed a 25-year jail term for embezzling $29 million dollars , money meant for the purchase of a presidential jet for Cameroon;but he appealed against the judgment claiming he was innocent, and the appeals court recently reduced the sentence to a 20-year jail term.
Marafa had been sentenced in April 2012 along with three others who also received the same sentence, including the former head of the now defunct airline Camair, Yves Michel Fotso
But his lead counsel, kofele kale, who described Marafa’s trial and imprisonment as a travesty of justice and flagrant violation of his client’s human rights had vowed to use other international avenues to correct what he termed the miscarriage of justice.
Convinced that Marafa was imprisoned without objective evidence or due process of law, Kofele kale filed a complaint to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (), which after a critical review of the matter has confirmed that Marafa was arbitrarily imprisoned, and is calling for his immediate release.
Kofele kale,an American-trained lawyer now in Cameroon, told this reporter on July 7,in Buea that he was in Yaounde on July 6 and visited his client Marafa in prison ,adding “ we shared a meal to bring the end of Ramadan”
He disclosed that Marafa is having some health problems but quickly noted that “His (Marafa’s) spirits are high after receiving such a powerful confirmation of his innocence from an international tribunal.
“After four years in detention under very deplorable conditions.. it has taken a toll on his health and he is beginning to have some problems with his eyes”
Asked if the defense counsel lawyer was confident that Cameroon would respect the recommendation of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention () that Marafa be released and compensated, kofele kale quipped, “Do they have a choice? If Nigeria did not the respect the Judgment of the ICJ on Bakassi what would have happened? You don’t pick and choose what you want to respect. If they did not want to respect it they would not have engaged in the contest.”
Asked how soon he expects his client to be set free, the American-trained lawyer expressed optimism that his client Marafa will “be released sooner than later, particularly because of his health condition”
Reacting to French Lawyer Lydien Eyoum,who has been amnestied by the Head of State,Kofele kale asked rhetorically, “ Have you been to Kondengui?
“So every one who is released from there we should all rejoice. You would recall that she also had a case before WGAD and they had ruled that her detention was arbitrary .But you know there are speculations that the French Government put in a lot of pressure on the government release her”