Three Chinese expatriates are currently detained in the Bertoua Central prison in Cameroon’s East region. The Chinese, Lu E Lan, Mao Dexi, Xingwang and three Cameroonians Désiré Fada, Bertrand Tiomo and Iya Balewa are expected to appear in court tomorrow March 22.
They are facing trail in the Bertoua Magistrate court for illegal mining and disrespect of security and hygiene rules as well as disregarding environmental protection clauses.
The detention of the six suspects, sources say, are the fallouts of a conflict between two mining companies, Codias SA and Gold Label Mining Sarl.
We learned that Codias SA, in September 2015, filed a complaint to the minister of mines, industries and technological development, against Gold Label Mining Sarl. The complainant requested the withdrawal of the mining permit that government had issued Gold Label Mining Sarl. The permit was, according to our source, withdrawn by the Administrative Court of the Center region.
The defendant, Gold Label Mining Sarl, in reaction, filed an appeal to the Administrative Bench of the Supreme Court. Unfortunately the court is yet to examine it.
Meanwhile, the minister of mines, industries and technological development, signed two releases on January 5, this year, issuing a mining permit to Codias SA for exploitation of the disputed mine and withdrawing the permit the Chinese and their partners had obtained two years ago.
Minister Ernest Gwaboubou, signed yet another decree on February 20, withdrawing the Gold Lable Mining’s permit for a second time. Codias SA which had equally filed a suit against Gold Label Mining Sarl in the Bertoua Magistrate Court, sued its rival one more time- this time around for “ theft and exploitation of gold”.
The court examined the case and redefined the accusations to mean illegal mining and disrespect of security and hygiene rules as well as disregarding environmental protection clauses. The Chinese were ordered to pay 200million FCFA, failure of which, the three of them and their Cameroonian partners were arrested and detained. They will be heared in court tomorrow for the first time.