By Hope Nda & *Chung Wendy Bright
Dr Kingsley Eban Barueta, the Director of the Muyuka District Hospital in Southwest Region, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for raping a girl in his office.
The ruling has brought to an end the case that has dragged on for over a year now.
Dr Eban Barueta was convicted by the Fako High Court holding at Buea on October 4, in a judgment that found him guilty for raping his intern in his office in Muyuka on May 21, 2021. The verdict was delivered by Justice Anne Afong.
He was convicted on two counts: firstly, was rape, backed by Sections 298(a) & (b) and 131; and secondly for indecency to a minor punishable by Section 347(1) of the Penal Code.
Prosecution Team Satisfied With Court Verdict
Given that the case was a criminal matter, the prosecution was led by the State, through the Legal Department. The prosecution team included Magistrates Emmanuel Kilo Ngwa and Kenneth Nzuobong-Tane Ekane. They felt satisfied with the verdict, stating that the case was not an easy one to follow through.
Also, the victim’s father hailed the court for rendering justice to his daughter. Ernest Formunjong Fon testified in court as a witness to his daughter’s case during a hearing on February 1.
“I really feel satisfied with the judgment today, because, the judge passed the right judgment. This is what I can describe as justice,” he said after judgment was delivered.
“When this incident happened I was devastated, not only my daughter, but the entire family. I was worried about my daughter’s health because I was thinking maybe she had an infection. But thank God everything was good after she was examined at the hospital.”
Sally Georgette Ndape, a human rights and gender-based violence advocate, who has been tracking the case since it occurred, said she is satisfied with the judgment as it renews hope in her drive to stem gender-based violence.
She was also a prosecution witness during one of the court hearings, where she testified to the rape allegations.
“I’m satisfied with the judgment,” she said, “and it gives us a go-ahead to say what we have been fighting in the community against violence and child abuse, it has now come to us that we are not working alone – the government is backing us up.”
“It is still a call for any case of gender-based violence that is ongoing in the community to reduce and should be reported immediately, because you, the complainer, we bet you, you will not cry anymore but justice will be served according to your case,” she furthered.
Defence Counsel’s Plea Rejected
Before being slammed the 18-year jail term, Dr Eban had spent seven months in pre-trial detention at the Buea Central Prison, but now, he will become a permanent occupant of the facility.
The counsel for the defence was led by Senior Barrister Etta Bissong and Barrister Emmanuel Nkea.
Lead Counsel, Barrister Etta Bissong, who has practised the law profession for about 44 years now, said seven months in pre-trial detention was enough time for his client to repent of his crime.
He asked the court to be considerate in its ruling, stating that the doctor had never committed any of such offence during his 22 years of practice as a medic.
He also pleaded with the court that his client fathers six children and is responsible for the welfare, education and maintenance of 20 internally displaced children who look up to him for livelihood.
The court, however, concluded that the doctor was supposed to protect the victim from abuse, instead of being the offender himself. The counsel for the defence was granted 10 days as from Tuesday to appeal the 18-year sentence.
Victim Was Raped Inside Doctor’s Office
The victim is said to have been 19 years old at the time she was raped, although her exact age could not be ascertained by the court due to inconsistent information concerning her birth date.
Narrating how she was raped, the victim said she was on internship at the Muyuka District Hospital, when the doctor called her into his office in on May 21, 2021, to teach her about abdominal parts of the body.
She said he fingered her vagina in the course of that, and forcefully had sexual intercourse with her. The doctor then gave her a toilet tissue to clean herself during which the tissue was stained with blood.
The girl claimed she had been a virgin, which was evident in a blood-stained tissue found in the doctor’s office trash can afterwards.
Although witness testimonies confirmed the blood-stained tissue, the court did not, however, base its ruling on the claims of virginity, as it remained difficult to prove.
In court, the accused denied all charges of rape. He agreed he had invited the victim to his office to teach her about the abdomen, admitted the fact of the toilet tissue, but refused to acknowledge where it came from.
*(UB Journalism Student on Internship)