Cameroon : Court frees man detained for 5 years without trial in Limbe

Court frees man detained for 5 years without trial

The Magistrate Court in Limbe, on February 5, set free 21-year-old Severin Pewah, after he spent five years in jail without trial.

Pewah was said to have been detained at the Buea Prison sometime in October 2011 when he was just 16 years old, thus a minor. According to the charges, he was arrested and detained for theft and non-possession of a National ID Card. But since then, he has never been tried.

The prosecution argued that the accused had been in and out of detention since when he was first detained in 2011. The State Counsel for Limbe told the court that Pewah had been released and that each time he was released, he was soon caught and brought back to jail still on account of stealing.

But Magistrate Tatsi, in his ruling, argued that the Court could not continue to keep him in detention after finding that he had been in jail for as long as five years and two weeks, without having been tried. He further argued that, even the witnesses in the case, have failed to appear in court on several occasions to substantiate their claims against Pewah.

“I find that the fundamental human rights of the accused have not been respected,” Tatsi said. He went further to state that Pewah’s rights, as prescribed by the Cameroon Constitution, that; “all suspects should be tried within reasonable time,” had also been violated. The court then set Pewah free.

Pewah’s freedom, nevertheless, did not come that easily. The court, at one point, was almost settled on letting Pewah stay on in jail. The prosecution had advanced the argument that Pewah’s long stay in detention had been prompted by the fact that, each time he got released, he was soon caught and brought back on account of the fact that he had stolen again. 

Magistrate Tatsi expressed the fears that his being set free and given his notoriety for stealing, he could, this time, be caught and lynched on grounds that the courts and the penitentiary service had failed to, in anyway, reform Pewah.

Magistrate Tatsi, after failing to find anyone who could take Pewah on probation and foster him, advised Pewah to “go and join the Church,” and “Make sure you try and pray and be a good boy.”

Pewah, glad to be free after years behind bars, said he would want to take up his training in motor mechanics when he is out.

Source: The Post Newspaper
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