When the brother of the girl who is alleged to have committed suicide (because of a cheating partner or a breakup) reached out to the public for financial assistance needed to cover the cost of taking the case to a court of law, it sparked a lot of reactions. Most of these reactions were lacking in empathy, and they seem to have little knowledge of how grief works and even less understanding of why some sense of justice, closure and truth is vital in such a case.
I was hoping to see someone offer him legal advice especially since he mentioned that he has evidence that raises questions about the circumstances surrounding his sister’s death. It could just be a hunch; he could be right as well as he could be wrong. One thing I know is that closure for him and his family is very important in such situations and that is why I think he needs legal counsel.
I am no legal expert but from common knowledge, I know how easy it is to make a murder look like a suicide, especially in places where the investigation process is slow and complicated like ours; plus, forensic evidence is not quite fashionable here. Also, there are many possible ways that the accused could have been directly involved in the “suicide” that could warrant criminal charges. This is why it is good to stay open-minded.
To go back to the financial concerns of the bereaved brother, in a criminal murder case like this one (based on the assumption that there is enough evidence to push the case forward), the prosecutor is typically paid by the government/state and he does not have to worry a lot about money. The prosecutor is employed by the government and is therefore paid a salary by the government. This implies that if there is sufficient evidence for a case, the system provides a lawyer paid by the state.
So, how does a case get to a prosecutor and court? If you have evidence against someone for murder or any criminal offence in Cameroon, you can report it to the police. The police will investigate the matter and, if they find sufficient evidence, they will refer the case to the prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor’s office will then decide whether to bring charges against the accused person and take the case to court.
However, it is important to note that the evidence gathered must be relevant, obtained legally and used legally as well without, in any way, violating the suspect’s constitutional rights. The suspect remains a suspect till he is proven guilty of the crime. The contrary could be proven as well and in order not for the plaintiff to get into legal trouble, he/she has to be sure that he/she understands the essentials.
It is equally fundamental to make sure that your evidence is solid enough for a case. If you falsely accuse someone of a crime without a solid reason for doing so, you may get into legal trouble and the victim can sue you for defamation or any related suit that can be established depending on the circumstances.
It is true that the legal process in Cameroon can be complicated, time-consuming and even frustrating without a good lawyer and at times pressure from NGOs and social media. It is therefore recommended to seek the assistance of a lawyer to help you navigate the legal process. But if money is an issue and you cannot have access to pro bono services, seeing the police is still an option.