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Family of Killed Cameroon Journalist Reports Threats from Officials Under Investigation

FILE - Journalists pay their last respects to colleague Martinez Zogo, who was found dead after being abducted, in Yaounde, Cameroon, Jan. 23, 2023.
FILE - Journalists pay their last respects to colleague Martinez Zogo, who was found dead after being abducted, in Yaounde, Cameroon, Jan. 23, 2023.

The family of Cameroonian journalist Martinez Zogo, who was killed in January, say they have received threats from officials suspected of involvement in his death. As authorities investigate the murder of the popular radio announcer and journalist, a debate has been sparked between family members who want him buried and others who insist on waiting until results of an investigation are made public.

Zogo’s mutilated remains were found near a bush in Yaounde on January 22, five days after he was abducted by unknown individuals.

His body remains in the Yaounde General Hospital mortuary as the investigation continues. Some of his uncles and brothers want him buried on April 1, but Zogo’s wife and children object.

During a meeting on Wednesday in Yaounde, Zogo’s widow and some of her children said they will not be intimidated by threats and demands.

Attorney Calvin Djob, who represents the family, confirmed that Zogo’s wife and children have been receiving death threats for distancing themselves from plans to bury. He said some family members and friends have received bribes to support burying the journalist before results of the investigation are made public from officials who are being investigated. Djob said Zogo’s spouse has made it clear that her husband will not be buried if results of investigations ordered by Cameroon President Paul Biya into Zogo’s death are not made public.

Djob said a court in Yaounde last week ruled against any burial organized without the consent of Zogo’s widow, but other family members who are insisting that he should be buried have appealed the court's decision.

Zogo’s team said the late journalist's widow and children have been targeted at least three times within the past two months by unidentified individuals.

Zogo’s widow, Diane Zogo, said that in one incident, the occupants of a car following her pulled up alongside her vehicle and opened fire, destroying the windshield. The assailants drove off when witnesses started shouting for help.

“Officials who are being investigated for killing Zogo believe that Zogo’s wife, Diane, is in possession of some information or documents that may incriminate the officials who are being investigated," said Pierre Menye, a relative of Diane Zogo. "[Diane Zogo and her] children need protection, without which they may be silenced by officials who are currently under investigation for killing Zogo.”

Menye said the Cameroonian government has not replied to applications for the police to protect the Zogo family.

Cameroon's police force acknowledges it has received calls from activists to protect the family. The police told state broadcaster CRTV that authorities have a duty to protect all civilians.

Last week, Felix Zogo, secretary general of Cameroon’s communication ministry, denied involvement in any plans to bury Martinez Zogo on April 1. The statement said the organization of the funeral remains in the hands of the late journalist’s family. The two men are not related.

Authorities have so far detained at least 20 people in connection with the killing, including senior police intelligence officers and a well-known media mogul, Jean-Pierre Amougou Belinga. A former presidential guard commander was also arrested.

On his radio program, Martinez Zogo accused Belinga and several government ministers of planning to kill him for reporting on their alleged corrupt deals, which he said ruined Cameroon's economy.

The suspects are being detained at the Kondengui maximum security prison in Yaounde.

Cameron's military tribunal in Yaounde, which is leading the investigation, says some senior officials are still being investigated.

Cameroonian laws state that when a crime is committed using weapons and involving military and police, a military tribunal investigates.