President’s staff convicted for attack on reporter
Six members of the Cameroonian president’s security staff have been given suspended prison sentences in Switzerland over an attack on a journalist, the Geneva prosecution authority said Thursday.
The six — five men and a woman — “have been criminally convicted,” the Geneva attorney general’s office told AFP, confirming reports in Swiss media.
The six were sentenced to suspended prison terms of between three and four months, it said.
The announcement came after Geneva cantonal police on Tuesday arrested the six, who it identified as “members of Cameroon President Paul Biya’s security service”, over the June 26 assault.
Last week, a journalist with Swiss broadcaster RTS, Adrian Krause, filed a criminal complaint stating he was assaulted by a group of men outside Geneva’s luxury Intercontinental Hotel, where Biya is believed to have been staying since June 23.
He said he had been filming a clash between around a dozen demonstrators against Cameroon’s 86-year-old president and members of the president’s security detail, when they attacked him and grabbed his equipment, wallet and phone.
He was slightly injured in the assault and his possessions were damaged.
The attack spurred Bern to summon Cameroon’s ambassador last week, describing the incident as “unacceptable” and adding “freedom of the press is protected and must be respected.”
On Wednesday, police said they had released the woman because she held a diplomatic passport, but it appears her passport did not offer immunity in criminal matters.
The attack on the journalist came a day after dozens of demonstrators against Biya, who has ruled Cameroon since 1982, managed to enter the five-star hotel and reportedly scuffled with his security staff inside.
At the weekend, hundreds of angry protestors tried to reach the hotel to “expel” the president, but were pushed back by riot gear-clad police firing on the demonstrators with a water cannon and tear gas.