The former SONARA General Manager and some of the accused appeared before the Special Criminal Court in Yaounde on February 18, 2015.
The trial of the former General Manager of the National Oil Refinery, SONARA, and four others accused of embezzling over FCFA 514 million, began at the Yaounde-based Special Criminal Court, SCC on Wednesday, February 18, 2015.
Presided by the President of SCC, Justice Yap Abdou alongside Justices Nyassa and Nina Galina, with Justices Tagiyin and Adebada as Advocates General, the first day of hearing entailed the identification of the accused, presenting the lists of witnesses and reading the charges. Present in court were Charles Metouck and former SONARA staffers, Ngalle Mouelle Noé and Edinguele Edinguele Jean Joule. The other two accused, Dikoume Albert Léonard and Tiako Etienne, were absent.
The five are accused of aiding and abetting the embezzlement of over FCFA 108 million. The amount was reportedly fraudulently retained from the signing by SONARA of a contract with a private company. Meanwhile, over FCFA 406 million, being taxes due to the State, was allegedly fraudulently retained by the accused. Concerning the appeal by the counsel for Tiako Etienne that his trial be stopped because he reimbursed the amount he was accused of embezzling last January, Justice Yap Abdou replied that he had no right to ask the Ministry of Justice to stop proceedings.
He explained that he will only act if notified by the ministry of the decision to stop proceedings. Similarly, Barrister Nguesse Sylvestre, counsel for Ngalle Mouelle Noé, submitted that the detention warrant against his client be lifted, given that he was earlier accused and interrogated on different charges, only to be transferred to SCC on entirely new counts on which he underwent no questioning.
The trial was adjourned to March 11, 2015, for the prosecution to respond to the plea of Barrister Nguesse Sylvestre on the possible lifting of the detention warrant against Ngalle Mouelle Noé. The next sitting would also give room for Tiako Etienne to appear in court; to which counsel for SONARA, Barrister Sama Francis was in agreement.