|Stephane Tchakam, Charge de Communication Pan Africa ILGA|
An Australian national is wanted by the Cameroonian justice in connection with a case of homosexuality opened in March this year against him his two co-accused. This after John Vassek from Australia, Jacques Yengue and Stéphane Maliedji both Cameroonians were arrested in the evening of the 26 Mars 2010 in the hall of the Meridien Hotel in Douala and taken by force to a police station where they were held for a weekend before being seeing the judge on the 29 Mars.
The three were charged with practicing homosexuality but were released on bail on 07 June following an intervention by Alice Nkom, lawyer and LGBTI rights defender who asked for their immediate release based on section 12 of the penal code that states that in a case of a homosexuality offense the accused can only be detained if they are caught on the act.
It is alleged that Vassek after getting his passport, left the country and did not come back for his trial.
Asked for comment on Vassek disappearance, Nkom said “I am not the one who is supposed to tell you where he is. One thing I know, my clients were detained abusively and I did my best to have them released; I can not see why Mr Vassek has to be here today and I just want the case to be heard before the court, this is why I am here.”
The trial was postponed to August this year in order for the judge pending the judge’s attempt to bring back Vassek.
While it is not clear whether Vassek defied the conditions of his bail by skipping the country, Claude Essoh, Human Rights Observer from Alternatives Cameroon said it is the responsibility of the judge to bring back.
“The judge want him to appear before the court it is his responsibility to bring him back. He said that he has the power to do so, let us wait and see.”
Sebastien Mandeng from the Association pour la Defense de l’Homosexualité (ADEFHO) believes it is unlikely that Vassek will come back to attend his trial.
“I do not think that he will come back to attend his trial. It is a risk he can not take. He had a bad experience in Cameroon he better stay in his country,” he concluded.