Former ambassador fights to prove innocence behind bars in Cameroon

Embassy of Cameroon to the United States. Loca...
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Cover Profile / Jerome Mendouga

Former Ambassador Fights to Prove Innocence Behind Bars in Cameroon

by Larry Luxner

Foreign ambassadors, once they finish their tours of duty in Washington, often go back home and write books or become private consultants. Others join the faculty of prestigious universities. If they’ve had an especially distinguished track record, they might be named foreign ministers by their country’s president, and — in a few cases — they end up as presidents themselves.

Jerome Mendouga’s career took a very different path — taking him all the way from the comfort of Washington’s Embassy Row to the squalor of Cameroon’s most notorious slammer.

After serving for 15 years as Cameroon’s ambassador to the United States, Mendouga returned to his African homeland in November 2008 — and five months later was arrested and jailed on suspicion of embezzling millions in state funds, largely in connection with an aircraft deal that’s become known in Cameroon as the “Albatross” affair.

Since April 15, 2009, the 72-year-old career diplomat has languished in a filthy cellblock as the government he once proudly represented tries to build a case against him. Yet almost a year and a half later, no formal charges had been filed as of press time, and Mendouga’s numerous friends and supporters — including his cancer-stricken wife and two daughters in the United States — adamantly proclaim his innocence, insisting he’s a victim of circumstance. Continue Reading Former Ambassador Fights to Prove Innocence Behind Bars in Cameroon

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