Catholic Bishops in Cameroon have rejected a forensic report which stated that the Bishop of Bafia, Mgr. Jean-Marie Benoit Bala died by drowning.
The President of the Cameroon Episcopal Conference, Mgr Samuel Kleda said in a press conference on 9 July that "we the Bishops maintain our position that Bishop Jean Marie Benoit Balla was brutally assassinated."
Bishop Bala, 58, disappeared from his residence on the night of 31 May. His car was found parked on the Sanaga Bridge, a couple of kilometers from his residence, but he was absent.Rather,a note, purportedly written by the Bishop saying simply “I am in the water,” was placed inside the car, along with his personal documents.
His corpse was found floating in the river by a Malian fisherman near Monatele on 2 June, 20 kilometers from the bridge.
A forensic diagnosis commissioned by INTERPOL and carried out by Professor Michael Tsokos, Director of the Berlin Institute of Forensic Medicine in Germany, and Doctor Mark Mulder, Coordinator of the Disaster Victim Identification Unit of INTERPOL, who arrived in Cameroon on 29 June came up with the conclusion that the Bishop drowned.
According to the Procureur General of Yaounde, Jean Fils Ntamack, the report notes that a close examination of the corpse noted the “absence of any traces of violence on the body of the deceased and concluded, in this light, that drowning was the most probable cause of the Bishop’s death.”
But the Bishops are now questioning the sincerity of that report.
"When we declared that Bishop Jean François Benoit Balla was assassinated, we knew what we were talking about," Kleda said.
He said two autopsies had already been carried out on the body of the Bishop and questioned why the results of those autopsies have not been made public.
“In view of the initial findings, we bishops of Cameroon affirm that Bishop Jean-Marie Benoit Bala did not commit suicide; he was brutally murdered. This is one more murder, and one too many,” the Bishops had said in an earlier press release.
"What we want to know now is why he was assassinated and who did it. Justice has to be done."