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Mar01272015

Last updateLun, 26 Jan 2015 8pm

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Ex-minister, French accomplice freed after 17 years in jail

Yaoundé, Cameroon - A former Cameroonian minister, Titus Edzoa, and his French accomplice, Michel Thierry Atangana, who were jailed 15 years in 1997 on corruption charges, were freed Monday, PANA reported from here Tuesday.

Found guilty in 1997 of embezzling public funds, the two were due to complete their prison term in 2012 but new charges were brought against them and both found guilty again and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in October 2013.

This prompted an outcry from France, the UN rights commission and international rights groups who said the trial was unfair and politically motivated.

Edzoa, 69, resigned from his cabinet position and announced he would challenge President Paul Biya in the 1997 election.

Atangana, 49, a French national of Cameroon origin, was Edzoa's campaign manager.

The 2013 ruling prompted an outcry from France, the UN rights commission and international rights groups who said the trial was unfair and politically motivated.

Atangana and Edzoa's release on Monday came after President Biya signed a special decree last week to pardon some prisoners as part of celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the reunification of the central African nation.

The case dates back to May 1997, when Atangana, then manager of the steering and monitoring Committee of the Yaoundé-Kribi and Ayos-Bonis road projects, was arrested for 'organized crime'.

Edzoa, an Associate Professor of cardiac surgery, was the personal doctor of President Biya, the Higher Education Minister, General Secretary of the Presidency of the Republic then Health Minister, before resigning in April 1997 to run for president.

Biya, 81, has ruled Cameroon for three decades after coming to power in 1982 when his predecessor, Ahmadu Ahidjo, resigned.

He won a fresh seven-year term in 2011.

Pana 26/02/2014