Separatist Cameroon Risk Death Sentence After Terrorism



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Ten Cameroonian separatist leaders extradited from Nigeria earlier this year will face trial next month on terrorism charges that could lead to the death penalty, one of their lawyers said after a hearing on Tuesday.

The accused include Julius Ayuk Tabe, the leader of an Anglophone separatist movement in western Cameroon, struggling to break with the francophone-dominated central government.

Hundreds of people, including civilians, separatist fighters and security agents from Cameroon, were killed in last year's violence, which emerged as the most serious threat to the security of President Paul Biya in office for 36 years.

"Ten charges have been made against them, including terrorism, terrorism, secession, civil war and revolution," lawyer Christopher Ndong told Reuters after the charges were read at the Yaounde military court.

The trial is set to begin on December 6, Ndong added.

Tabe and his co-defendants were among 47 Anglophone cameramen arrested in Nigeria and deported to Cameroon in January. The other 37 suspects remain detained by the authorities and have not been charged, Ndong said.

The government spokesman in Cameroon was not immediately available for comment.

A separatist insurgency gained momentum in 2017 following a government crackdown on the peaceful protests of Anglophones, who complain of being marginalized by the majority of French.

Violence on both sides of the conflict intensified this year, forcing thousands of civilians to seek refuge in the French-speaking regions.

Biya, re-elected for a seventh term in October, said in his inaugural speech last month that separatists must lay down their arms or face the full force of the law.

Cameroon usually sentences people to death, but has not performed an execution in years.

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