CAMEROON: Church Challenges Autopsy Report on Deceased Bishop

YAOUNDE JULY 21, 2017(CISA)-The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Cameroon (CENC) has filed a private lawsuit challenging the autopsy report of the late Bishop Jean-Marie Benoit Bala of Bafia, whose body was found floating in River Sanaga in June 2017.

“We were not satisfied with investigators’ findings that Bishop Bala drowned after he disappeared overnight May 31, three days before his body was found miles downstream from his abandoned vehicle. We want to ensure that to ensure that truth is established,” Archbishop Samuel Kleda, Chairman of the bishops conference told Radio France Internationale July 18.

“If he’d died from drowning, there would have been water in his body, but there was nothing. Instead, it was clear there were many marks of violence,” added the Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Doula.

He noted that the bishops’ conference would also file a complaint against unspecified officials for mishandling the case and would hand its file of evidence to lawyers acting on its behalf.

Preparations are underway in Bafia for theAugust 2 funeral for the 58-year-old bishop, whose remains were returned to the church July 17.

Bishop Bala’s body was discovered by fishermen June 2 in the Sanaga River, four miles from a bridge where a ‘suicide’ note was found in his abandoned car.

The French-language African News Agency said media reports that he had committed suicide were rejected by church colleagues and questioned by police and justice officials.

The bishops’ conference said in a June 13statement that it was certain that Bishop Bala had been brutally murdered, and it demanded his killers be identified by name and brought to justice.

However, Cameroon’s attorney general said July 4 that no traces of violence had been found when the bishop’s remains were re-examined in late June by German forensic pathologists in an Interpol-commissioned autopsy, which had concluded drowning was the most probable cause of his death.

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