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YAOUNDÉ, CAMEROON —A prominent Cameroonian businessman was charged Saturday with complicity in the torture of a journalist who was murdered in a high-profile case that has rocked the country, his lawyer told AFP.
Jean-Pierre Amougou Belinga, reputedly close to ministers and senior officials, was arrested February 6 and brought before a military court in the capital Yaounde on Friday before being remanded, his lawyer said.
A source at the court confirmed the report to AFP on the condition of anonymity. The authorities did not respond to requests for comment on the charges Amougou Belinga faces.
Radio journalist Martinez Zogo, who was kidnapped and brutally murdered in January, was outspoken against graft and financial sleaze and had often faced threats over his work.
Amougou Belinga, owner of L'Anecdote media group, "was arrested... at dawn" last month, the company said.
The tycoon has holdings in banking, finance, insurance and property, as well as L'Anecdote, which owns a daily newspaper of that name and several pro-government TV and radio stations.
Belinga's lawyer said his client was "not charged with the murder of Martinez Zogo," adding: "It is only an indictment, the judicial investigation has only just begun."
Belinga "was placed under a detention order... at the main prison in Kondengui" after being "presented before an investigating judge at the military court," a media group he owns said in a statement.
Several people suspected of involvement in the case were also brought before the military court Friday evening, according to an AFP reporter on the scene.
Leopold Maxime Eko Eko, head of the General Directorate for External Investigations (DGRE) and its director of operations, Justin Danwe, are among those suspected, a communication ministry official told AFP on the condition of anonymity, alongside other official sources who also requested confidentiality.
Denis Omgba Bomba, head of the National Media Observatory, a unit attached to the communications ministry, previously confirmed the arrest and said the tycoon had been "named a suspect in the killing of Martinez Zogo."
Zogo, 50, was the manager of the privately-owned radio station Amplitude FM and host of a daily show called Embouteillage (Traffic Jam).
He had frequently named Amougou Belinga in his corruption accusations.
Knew of threats before abducted
Zogo was abducted January 17 outside a police station in the suburbs of the capital Yaounde, and his mutilated corpse was found five days later.
Just days before he was killed, he had told listeners about threats he faced.
The murder sparked outcry, including a protest by 20 leading Cameroonians over the government's "long tradition of trivializing impunity and accepting atrocities."
RSF's Press Freedom Index ranks Cameroon 118th out of 180 countries.
The government has insisted Cameroon is "a state of law, where liberty is guaranteed, including the freedom of the press."