A judge of Benin’s Court of Repression of Economic Offences and Terrorism (CRIET) has just slammed the door and gone into exile, putting the question of the impartiality of this jurisdiction back into debate.
Like a persistent rumour, the news of the resignation and departure into exile – for fear of reprisals – of Essowé Batamoussi, magistrate and member of the chamber of freedoms and detention of the Court of Repression of Economic Offences and Terrorism (CRIET) spread yesterday Sunday, without any official confirmation. This morning, the person concerned spoke out on RFI, denouncing the pressure to which the judges of the CRIET are often subjected.
« The judge that I am is not independent as it should be. All the decisions we have had to take have been made under pressure. I will cite the last one, the one that saw the placement of Lady Reckya Madougou in detention. In this case, we were asked by the chancellery, because the case file did not contain any element that could make us decide to detain her. This was not the first time, there have been many cases where we received instructions from the chancellery, » he said.
To the question of whether his resignation is not an attempt to manipulate a few days before the presidential election, Essowé Batamoussi replied directly: « I am not a politician, I speak only of my house of justice. What I am denouncing is to help my colleagues who are currently under pressure, and to bring the people to know that they are not acting of their own free will, but that they are under pressure from the government, and to try to understand us.
This brings back into the limelight the virulent criticisms made by part of the political class against the CRIET, which it has always presented as a machine for repressing the opposition. The case of Reckya Madougou, the failed candidate of former President Boni Yayi’s party in the presidential elections, arrested, brought before the CRIET, charged with terrorism and deposited in the civil prison of Missérété, continues to dominate the news in Benin. Just last Saturday, some people demonstrated in front of the prison where the opponent is locked up to demand her release.