Three soldiers accused of participating in the massacre of women and children in Ngarbuh in the restive Anglophone region of the northwest of Cameroon will go on trial December 17, 2020, in the Yaounde military tribunal.
Making the announcement in Yaounde on Tuesday, Navy Captain Cyrille Serge Atonfack, the head of the Communication Unit in the Ministry of Defense, revealed that the three soldiers were being charged for “murder, arson and destruction, violence on a pregnant woman and violation of instructions”.
The news has been welcomed by some international human rights organisations including Human Rights Watch whose representative in Central Africa, Alaria Allegrozzi, has saluted the decision.
“We salute the opening of this trial, considering that we have moved from a pure and simple denial to an investigation, to a presidential declaration and now a trial,” Allegrozzi declared to the press, adding that she was convinced the soldiers being accused did not act on their own.
The Human Rights Watch official said she was sure “highly-placed individuals within the chain of command” were as responsible for the acts as the soldiers who executed the orders and so they must also be pursued and brought to book.
After a government investigation following the massacres, disciplinary procedures were opened against Chief of Battalion Nyianono Ze Charles Eric, Commander of the 52nd motorized infantry battalion and all the soldiers who took part in the Ngarbuh operation.
These included Sergeant Baba Guida, gendarme Sanding Sanding Cyrille and first-class soldier Haranga Gilbert.
The names of those to stand trial have not been mentioned categorically but it is suspected they may be these three.
It should be recalled here that on the night of February 13, 2020, around 10 pm, a group of three soldiers and two gendarmes left the Ntumbaw military base for Ngarbuh.
On their way to Ngarbuh, the chief of mission Sergeant Baba Guida integrated 17 members of the village vigilante group into the mission.
According to accounts by the military, on arrival in Ngarbuh, the soldiers came under attack by Cameroon Anglophone separatist fighters.
The military holds that after the exchange of fire between them and the separatist fighters, they later discovered that three women and 10 children had died during the fighting.
Separatists and other sources hold very strongly that the women and children were killed by the army in cold blood.
After the massacre was revealed, the Paul Biya government declined responsibility for the killings and set up a commission to investigate what really happened.
The commission eventually found out that the women and children were killed by members of the Cameroon Armed Forces, thus the decision now to prosecute those government says were responsible for the massacre.