(Business in Cameroon) - On October 9, 2019, Pierre Cerutti, CEO of French cabinet Cerutti, sent an open letter to Paul Biya, president of Cameroon, about the Eseka rail accident of October 21, 2016, that claimed 79 lives and injured 600 (official account).
In the letter, Pierre Cerutti reveals that at the end of an international call for tenders launched by Sani Mouhamadou, an independent military adviser, his cabinet was selected to investigate the accident.
“On November 21, 2016, we made an oral report before the ministerial council presided by Philémon Yang, then prime minister and head of the government. On the same day, we submitted a 19-page progress report. Back in France, we continued the instruction of this case which is of an exceptional gravity in view of the heavy human loss. On February 4, 2017, after collection of the required additional information, we submitted a 70-page final report,” Pierre Cerutti writes.
Withholding and legal limbo
The cabinet indicates that it was not informed of the progress of the legal proceedings. Only recently, it informs, has it learned about “irregularities” that marred the proceedings at Eseka court. Among those “irregularities” are Camrail’s comments submitted on December 19, 2016. In its comments, Camrail, subsidiary of Bolloré Group, pointed out the similarities of Cerutti’s report with that submitted by Cameroonian expert Benoît Essiga. Some paragraphs were "exactly the same," Camrail commented.
“ Camrail’s observations suspected lack of impartiality, honesty and betraying my oath as a legal expert. Worse, I found out that in its conclusions of September 12, 2018, Camrail accused me, before Eseka court, of having submitted plagiarized report,” the letter continued. According to Pierre Cerutti, the expert guilty of plagiarism is Cameroonian competitor Benoît Essiga; not the other way round.
The French expert explains that later on when his lawyer Joseph Youmsi stood before Eseka lower court to present the final report, the district attorney and the presiding judge declared that they have never seen such a report before the presentation. Yet, it was sent to the investigation committee.
Blockades at the presidency of the republic
“It thus appears that the Cerutti cabinet’s final report of February 14, 2017, has never been transmitted to magistrates and victims’ counsels. Only the Cerutti cabinet’s progress report of November 21, 2016 was produced in court while the 46 copies (23 in French and 23 in English), including the 2 refined luxury copies specially addressed to you, copies of the 70-page final report, which was sent to the presidency of Cameroon via DHL, disappeared altogether,” the letter informs.
According to Pierre Cerutti, the final report contains clarifications, addressed to judges of Eseka court, about the causes and circumstances of that accident. The report, the same source indicates, has technical and scientific proofs of serious offenses and violations committed by Camrail, from the general manager to the operating crew.
“With such irregularities having likely affected the proper administration of justice in this serious case, it is my duty to respectfully call your attention on the matter. I am available to submit all the documents that back my statements,” Pierre Cerutti wrote to Paul Biya.
Cerutti cabinet has conducted 180,000 investigations around the world. 1,000 of them were conducted in Cameroon since the 1980s. Among them are major cases like the construction of the Etoudi presidential palace, the explosion of Cellulose du Cameroun (Cellucam) in Edéa, the establishment of former Société Nationale d’électricité (Sonel) and the risks related to the exploitation of Cimencam’s plants.