Jean Pierre Amougou Belinga, the publisher of a Cameroonian tabloid newspaper which ‘outed’ a senior government official, has been sentenced in the capital of Yaounde to four months in jail for defamation. He was also ordered to pay costs and publish the ruling in his newspaper.
L’Anecdote was one of three newspapers that embarked on a campaign to identify around 50 public figures in the country who they claimed were gay or had engaged in homosexual sex. The resulting editions were often sold out, thanks to a public eager for scandal.
The publications justified their actions by claiming that they were exposing “deviant behaviour”, in a nation in which homosexuality is illegal.
One of the men identified by L’Anecdote was Gregoire Owona, the minister of parliamentary affairs, who then sued Belinga for libel and defamation. In ruling for the minister, the judge in the case said that no evidence had been produced to show that Owona is gay. In his judgment he also condemned homosexuality as abhorrent.
Cameroon’s Communications Minister, Pierre Moukoko Mbonjo, who was also named in the newspaper, has said that he may also sue.