Cameroon president halts prosecution of 289 separatists

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Cameroon President Paul Biya on Thursday called a halt to the prosecution of 289 separatists from the West African country’s western English-speaking regions, his office said.

Biya “has decided on… the halt of cases pending in military courts against a certain number of people arrested for offences committed during the crisis in the (anglophone) Northwest and Southwest” regions, a statement said, adding that the measure concerned “289 detainees”.

Since the secessionists took up arms last years, attacks by their fighters and a crackdown by the authorities have led to the death of at least 500 civilians as well as more than 200 members of the security forces, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG).

Separatist leader Julius Sisiku Ayuk Tabe went on trial on December 6 on charges of “terrorism” and “secession”.

Ayuk Tabe, president of the self-declared “Republic of Ambazonia”, was arrested in neighbouring Nigeria and extradited to Cameroon in January this year along with 46 others.