By Solomon Amabo in Douala,
The former Littoral Coordinator of the National Committee for the
Fight against HIV/AIDS has been sentenced to 15 years in jail after he
was found guilty of embezzling public funds.
The verdict was handed down on Monday 13 July by judges at the Wouri High Court.
Mbangue was dismissed from his functions by the then Minister of Public
Health, Urbain Olanguena Awono, on 27 December 2005 and has been
awaiting trial since 6 May 2006 at the New Bell prison.
Rudolf Mbangue and three co-accused have to pay some FCFA 205,780,000 damages to the state.
four former health officials who were sentenced, were found guilty of
embezzling FCFA 205 millions; money put at the disposal of the
government by the World Bank for the fight against HIV/AIDS. They are
said to have created some 209 fictitious HIV associations through which
they swindled state money.
Rudolf Mbangue was presented by the
Wouri High court as the brain behind the embezzlement scam. Judges said
he fraudulently withdrew some FCFA 5 million from state coffers and
also signed a series of cheques, facilitating the collection of public
funds. He equally ordered the disbursement of funds without the
appropriate documents. After making public the names of the inexistent
associations the accused had created, judges at the court said the
former health officials connived to rob the state.
Mbangue the coordinator of the HIV/AIDS programme, the accountant, a
certain Tchouameni and the Chief of a local control unit, Catherine
Linwa were each jailed for 15 years. The financial officer, Thobi
Essama was sentenced to 15 years in jail.
The accused would also
have to pay some FCFA 10,231,000,550 as court fees. They are to spend 5
years each in jail if the fine is not paid.
Defense lawyers notably Barristers Eddy Temnga and Antoine Kitio all said they would appeal against the court verdict.
former Minister of public health, Urbain Olanguena Awono, is currently
awaiting trial at the Kondengui Prison in Yaoundé over similar