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Fotso v. Republic of Cameroon

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

May 15, 2013

YVES MICHEL FOTSO, Plaintiff,
v.
REPUBLIC OF CAMEROON, PAUL BIYA, PASCAL MAGNAGUEMABE, JUSTICE SOH, JEAN BAPTISTE BOKAM, COLONEL AMADOU, and INNOCENT MBOUEM, Defendants.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION

THOMAS M. COFFIN, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, Yves Michael Fotso, brings this action under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) and the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) asserting torture by public officials, false imprisonment, and breach of contract. Defendant Paul Biya, President of Cameroon, has already been dismissed by virtue of the United States informing the court of his immunity. The remaining defendants now seek dismissal.

ALLEGATIONS

Plaintiff alleges as follows:

PlaintiffF otso is a Cameroonian who is currently in the custody of the Republic of Cameroon incarcerated at the Gendarmerie lock-up in the Secretariat d'Etat a la defense in the charge of the Gendarmerie.

In 2001, Cameroon sought to purchase a BBJ-2 aircraft for Defendant Biya and to lease a B767-231 and B747-300. Cameroonian officials contacted Cameroon Airlines to arrange the transactions. At the time, plaintiff was the general manager-administrator for the airlines and acted as Cameroon's point of contact.

Plaintiff negotiated the purchase and leases with GIA International, Inc. Cameroon's Minister of Finance paid cash directly to GIA, but in early 2004, GIA became insolvent.

GIA filed for Bankruptcy in the United States Bankruptcy Court in the District of Oregon and a trustee was assigned. Cameroon, among others, filed adversary proceedings in the case. In August of2006, the trustee negotiated a settlement agreement and mutual release with the parties including Cameroon and Indian Airlines. Pursuant to the release, no party could assert against any other party or person being released any claim or initiate any action. The agreement also released Cameroon Airlines and its agents and employees.

On December 1, 2010, Cameroon initiated a criminal action against plaintiff alleging he and others fraudulently kept the $31, 000, 000 paid to GIA. Pursuant to the criminal action, plaintiff was imprisoned at the Yaunde Central Prison-Kondengui between December 1, 2010, and May 25, 2012, by order of defendant Magistrate Judge Pascal Magnaguemabe.

While imprisoned at the Yaunde prison, plaintiff was housed in a small windowless cell without access to light or fresh air for more than 12 hours each day. On May 25, 2012, plaintiff was transferred to the Gendarmerie lock-up run by defendant Jean Baptiste Bokam, the Secretary of State for the Defense in charge of National Gendarmerie. During the transfer, plaintiff was beaten, kicked, shocked, and otherwise subject to physical and emotional torture by hooded soldiers. Defendant Innocent Mbouem, Lieutenant in the National Gendarmerie Brigade, participated in the attacks.

Between December 1, 2010, and the present, plaintiff has not been allowed to write his family with only infrequent unreasonably controlled visits. The prison guards have denied plaintiff access to reading materials and only provided him with books after he threatened a hunger strike. Until recently, plaintiff has been denied access to radio and television. In addition, plaintiff was given infrequent monitored access to counsel with no confidential communications.

Plaintiff alleges he was intentionally and maliciously tortured by public officials under the control of the President such as defendant Mbouem and others causing him permanent injury. Moreover, defendants either participated in the torture or allowed it.

Plaintiff alleges that defendant Cameroon intended to confine him without trial despite the agreement not to bring any action against Cameroon Airlines and its agents. The confinement has also caused plaintiff permanent injury.

For his final claim, plaintiff alleges that Cameroon has violated the agreement/release it entered into following the GIA bankruptcy by initiating the criminal proceedings ...


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