Cameroon’s military said on Friday that a journalist who disappeared last August in a part of the country where it is battling Anglophone separatists died in its custody weeks after he was arrested but denied that he was tortured.
The statement, read on national radio, was the first public acknowledgment by Cameroonian authorities of the death of Samuel Ebuwe Ajiekia, also known as Samuel Wazizi, who worked as a radio and television anchor in the South West Region.
The head of Cameroon’s journalists union said they last saw a healthy Wazizi in the first week of August after he was arrested by the police and were then informed a few days later that he had been transferred into military custody.
In the statement, army spokesman Cyrille Atonfack Nguemo said the military took custody of Wazizi on 7 August after investigations revealed he was coordinating logistics for separatist fighters – charges his family and colleagues deny.
On 13 August, Nguemo said, Wazizi was placed into the custody of the national gendarmerie – a military police force. Soon after, Wazizi became sick and was taken to hospital in the capital Yaounde, where he died on 17 August, Nguemo said.
“He clearly died from a severe sepsis and not from any acts of torture,” Nguemo said, rejecting accusations of torture made by the head of the journalists’ union.
Nguemo also said that Wazizi’s family was informed of his death. But Wazizi’s brother, Henry Abuwe, denied that.