Supreme Court Orders Retrial Of Lapiro Case Monday, June 24, 2013

lapiro De Mbanga

lapiro De Mbanga

The Supreme Court in Yaounde has annulled the September 24, 2008 ruling of the Mungo High Court against Cameroonian music star and social critic, Pierre Lambo Sandjo aka Lapiro de Mbanga. The court also ordered the retrial of the case four years after Lapiro filed an appeal against the Mungo High Court ruling. It also comes when he has already served his jail term and is enjoying political asylum in America. Lapiro’s legal counsel, Barrister Rene Manfo, disclosed this information to The Post on June 22.

The decision was part of the court’s ruling on an appeal case which Lapiro had filed since 2009. The Supreme Court verdict annulling the ruling of the Mungo High Court is coming after Lapiro had long completed his imprisonment term. The Supreme Court has also ordered the Mungo High Court to restart the case against Lapiro, who since last year has been on political asylum in the United States.

Revisiting The Lapiro Trial


It would be recalled that the ruling by the Mungo High Court had declared Lapiro guilty of allegedly instigating the destruction of public and private property in Mbanga, during the February 2008 unrest that rocked some parts of the country.

The court slammed a three-year term on Lapiro, and as well ordered that he should pay FCFA 280 million for damages to a French banana plantation company in Mbanga, SPM, and the Taxation Department in Mbanga. Lapiro, however, refuted the accusation, insisting that he was being victimised for his critical opinions against the CPDM regime, especially his opposition to the move to review an article in the Cameroon Constitution, to enable President Biya to again run at the 2011 presidential election.

During the trial, the management of SPM had insisted that Lapiro was not with the gang that destroyed part of the plantation. The management of SPM said it was the company that sent an SOS to Lapiro when the plantation was attacked, to calm down the youths who were causing the destruction.

However, the State Prosecution maintained that Lapiro participated in the destruction of the plantation. The Mungo High Court, in its ruling of September 24, 2008, ordered Lapiro to pay FCFA 20 million to SPM, for alleged damages. The SPM management said that the company would not take the money.

Regarding the building of the Taxation Department in Mbanga during the same period, a local CPDM official incriminated Lapiro in his testimony. He alleged that Lapiro offered fuel to striking youths for the burning of the building. In its ruling, the Mungo High Court ordered Lapiro to pay FCFA 80 million to the Taxation Department for damages.

Lapiro and his legal counsel appealed the verdict at the Littoral Court of Appeal. This led to his transfer from the prison in Nkongsamba, to the New Bell Prison in Douala. The Littoral Appeal Court in a ruling delivered in 2009, maintained the Mungo High Court verdict. However Lapiro went ahead and appealed at the Supreme Court. Lapiro completed his three year imprisonment term in 2011, and was allowed to leave the New Bell Prison without the fine of FCFA 280 million having been paid, because his appeal was still pending at the Supreme Court.

Certificate Of Non Conviction

Barrister Rene Manfo explained that the good thing about the verdict of the Supreme Court is that the three-year jail term that Lapiro served will be taken off his judicial record. This means that if Lapiro were to return to Cameroon today, he can still legally obtain a certificate of non conviction. Barrister Manfo also noted that the FCFA 280 million that was hanging over Lapiro has also been annulled.

Asked what will happen when the Mungo High Court has to restart the case against Lapiro, considering that he is on asylum in the United States, Barrister Manfo said: “Well, when the time comes, we shall see. Perhaps the court will go and serve Lapiro in the United States”. 

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