EUGENE, Ore. (CN) – The president of Cameroon had an airline manager tortured and thrown into prison, where he remains, because of a dispute over an airplane the president wanted to buy, the airline manager claims in Federal Court.
Yves Michael Foto, former general manager of Cameroon Airlines, claims he’s been held in a small windowless cell, beaten and shocked with electricity since the dispute began in 2010. He sued the Republic of Cameroon, President Paul Biya and five other Cameroonian officials, including a judge, his prosecutor, the head of the National Police, and a colonel and a lieutenant.
Cameroon, a former French colony in West Africa, is south of Nigeria.
In 2001, the Cameroonian government contacted Cameroon Airlines to arrange the purchase and lease of three aircraft for President Biya, Foto says in his complaint.
Fotso says he negotiated the sale with GIA International, but the company became insolvent in 2004 and filed for bankruptcy in the United States.
In 2010, Fotso says, Cameroon’s government claimed that he and others kept $31 million that was paid to GIA. He was thrown into in prison.
“While imprisoned at the Younde Prison, Fotso was housed in a small windowless cell without access to natural or artificial light or fresh air for more than 12 hours each day,” the complaint states.
He says things got worse when he was transferred to another prison this May.
“Fotso was beaten, kicked, shocked with electricity, and otherwise subjected to physical and emotional torture by hooded soldiers during the transfer from Younde Prison to SED [Secretaire d’Etat a la Defense]. [Defendant] Lieutenant Innocent Mbouem of the Gendarmerie Brigade participated in the attacks on Fotso,” the complaint states.
“Between December 1, 2010 and present, Fotso has not been allowed to write to his family. In fact, Fotso has been prohibited from keeping a pen and writing paper. Visits with his family were only allowed infrequently and unreasonably controlled. The Gendarmes guarding Fotso have denied him access to reading material including the state-owned newspaper, Cameroon Tribune. He was provided books only after threatening a hunger strike. Until recently, Fotso was not allowed access to a radio or a television set despite his nearly two years of captivity.”
Fotso seeks punitive damages for torture by a public official, false imprisonment and breach of contract.
Defendants include Magistrate Judge Pascal Magnaguemabe, prosecutor Justice Soh, Secretary of State Jean Baptiste Bokam, prison commander Col. Amadou, and Lt. Innocent Mbouem.
Fotso is represented by Kelly Beckley and Kevin Bons, with Beckley & Bons, of Eugene.