02/08/2021

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Equatorial Guinea: Officer and solider on trial for fiery manslaughter

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On trial for negligent homicide in Equatorial Guinea — an officer and a soldier of Nkoa-Toma military camp situated in the economic capital Bata,

The information is according to the indictment read on Saturday evening on state radio and television (TVGE) by the military prosecutor Alejandro Mitogo.

Camp base head Lieutenant-Colonel Valentin Nzang Ega and Corporal José Antonio Obama Nsue appeared in court before a military court for “homicide, damage, fire, negligence and punishable imprudence causing death.”

The charges arose as a result of at least three devastating explosions on the army base and its many surrounding residential areas that killed 107 people and injured 615 on March 7.

The powerful blasts — spaced several minutes apart, literally ravaged the Nkoa-Toma camp after a fire caused by a poorly controlled burning set the arsenal and armoury of the military compound ablaze.

The aforementioned blaze consequently razed the buildings of the camp housing of the special forces soldiers and gendarmes, as well as their families — as it gutted and flattened countless houses within proximity.

The prosecutor’s office is requesting a sentence of 70 years imprisonment and President Teodoro Obiang Nguema — who has ruled this small Central African country with an iron fist for nearly 42 years, announced the opening of an investigation.

The city of Bata is home to about 800,000 of the 1.4 million inhabitants of this small state, rich in oil and gas, but where the vast majority of the population lives below the poverty line.

The army is all-powerful and pampered by its leaders in this country with an economy at half-mast due to the fall in oil prices since 2014, on which it depends for 90%. But Equatorial Guinea has allocated 95 billion CFA francs to defence (140 million euros) in its 2020 budget, compared with 59 billion to education (90 million euros).