YAOUNDE (Reuters) - A Cameroonian military tribunal on Monday sentenced a journalist to 10 years in prison on terrorism charges, including for failing to report acts of terrorism to authorities, in a trial that has drawn sharp criticism from rights groups.
The court had been told that evidence was found in Ahmed Abba’s computer showing he had been in contact with Boko Haram Islamist militants and that they had communicated information to him about future attacks.
Abba, a Cameroonian journalist for Radio France International, could have faced the death penalty on the charges.
Since his arrest in July 2015 Abba has denied the charges, brought against him under an anti-terrorism law passed the year before.
Judge Edou Mewoutou also ordered him to pay a fine of 55 million CFA Francs ($90,000) and barred him from speaking to the media about the trial.
“Ahmed Abba’s conviction, after torture and an unfair trial, is clear evidence that Cameroon’s military courts are not competent to try civilians and should not have jurisdiction in these cases,” said Amnesty International’s Ilaria Allegrozzi.
A lawyer for Abba said he would appeal the sentence.
The central African country’s veteran ruler Paul Biya has faced international censure for alleged human rights violations in recent months, including during the suppression of protests in Cameroon’s two western English-speaking regions.
Organisers of those protests are currently on trial charged under the same anti-terrorism law used against Abba.
Reporting by Sylvain Andzongo; Writing by Emma Farge; Editing by Andrew Roche