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Bollore/ Cameroon justice: Eseka train derailment; court ruling favours victims

28.09.2018
The famous philosopher Socrates once quoted, ‘nothing is to be preferred before justice’ ’this defines the events that unfolded at the Eseka court of first instance in the centre region of Cameroon. Victims of the October 21, 2016 Eseka train accident were overwhelmed on Wednesday, September 26, 2018 after a court ruling found Camrail operators guilty of the train derailment that caused the death of at least 79 and wounded more than 600, as per the government’s report. Though justice became a reality after the verdict, the scars of the accident live on. The ruling was granted after several court hearings at the Eseka Court of First Instance.

A VICTORY FOR THE FAMILIES OF VICTIMS

Families of the victims or persons who suffered the effects of the trail accident two years ago in Eseka Cameroon, were greeted with much relief as the long overdue court verdict was finally passed. Camrail, sole Cameroonian rail operator controlled by renowned French business magnate Vincent Bollore was found responsible for the train mishap. The district judge Marcel Ndigui Ndigui ruled that Camrail and other leading defendants were capable of homicide in conjunction with the October 2016 trail accident. According to the judge, the defendants were guilty of “dangerous activities and involuntary manslaughter”. Among the convicts, was Camrail’s ex-chief executive Didier Vandenbon. According to one of the leading lawyers, Mr. Vandenbon, a French official gained the victim’s sympathy after he pleaded guilty during his interrogation and was hailed for good conduct, explaining why he was slammed just a six-month verdict, while others received prison terms of between three and five years. Three defendants were set free. Critics however think the verdict was too lenient given the magnitude of the havoc caused by the train derailment. One was quoted’ ’ENOUGH JUSTICE WAS NOT RENDERED’’. Reacting to the court judgment, Lawyer Massi Ngakele, who stood for one of the victims, welcomed the ruling saying, “It’s a historic day after a time of tears. Now is the time to hope.” Camrail officials did not immediately comment on the verdict. The accident that clouded Cameroonians with grief and which attracted the international scene, led to the demise of some 79 people, leaving hundreds wounded according to the Cameroon government. However, most analysts and critics claimed that hundreds of lives were lost in the disaster; counteracting the government’s figures. This latest trail follows government’s findings in 2017 that blamed the rail company for the derailment.Though the verdict was seen as too lenient, some analysts have applauded Cameroon’s jurisdiction or judicial body for the way it handled a crime of such magnitude.

DETAILS ABOUT THE COMPANY

CAMRAIL  was born out of the privatization of the Cameroon national Railways, initiated by the Cameroon Government in her economic boosting policy the privatization process which took off in the month of January 1996 ended in January 1999 with the signing of a concession agreement. CAMRAIL effectively started its activities on the I st of April 1999.The concession agreement conceded to CAMRAIL:

  • Technical and commercial management of the railway System..
  • Maintenance, development and the exploitation of Railways infrastructure,
  • Management of the railway estate.

Financially CAMRAIL is a limited company with a capital of 11.303.909.000 francs CFA  shareholders are the following :

  • SCCF (Bolloré Group): 77.4%
  • State of Cameroon: 13.5%
  • TOTAL Cameroon: 5.3%
  • SEBC (Groupe Thanry) : 3,8 %

 

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