89 Boko Haram militants sentenced to death in Cameroon

Cameroonian soldiers in the Far North Region in 2014, deployed to fight Boko Haram insurgents.

Story highlights

  • Law promulgated by President Biya in 2014 applies the death penalty to a number of terrorism-related offenses
  • The death sentences handed down Wednesday are "not subject to appeal," a military magistrate told CNN
  • Security expert worries that, rather than deterring terrorists, the law creates more martyrdom appeal

Yaounde, Cameroon (CNN)A military court in Cameroon this week sentenced 89 Boko Haram insurgents to death for their roles in terror attacks in the country's Far North Region.

The judgment handed down Wednesday marks the most extreme implementation of a controversial anti-terrorism law promulgated by President Paul Biya in December 2014. It prescribes the death penalty for "any activity which can lead to a general revolt of the population or disturb the normal functioning of the country" and for "anyone who supplies arms, war equipment, bacteria and viruses with the intention of killing."
    The death penalty also applies for people found guilty of kidnapping with terrorist intent, as well as for "anyone who directly or indirectly finances acts of terrorism" and for "anyone who recruits citizens with the aim of carrying out acts of terrorism."
    The law also punishes people and companies found guilty of promoting terrorism, as well as people who give false testimony to administrative and judicial authorities in matters of terrorism, with various fines and prison terms.
    A military magistrate who would not be named told CNN that "the judgment was not subject to appeal."
    The 89 condemned insurgents were among nearly 1,000 who were convicted by the military court.
    Recently, Chad executed 10 Boko Haram members convicted of acts of terrorism.

    Fear of retaliation

    Security experts already are expressing fears that executions intended to deter terrorists will cause violent retaliation instead.
    The International Business Times quoted David Otto, CEO of UK-based global security provider TGS Intelligence Consultants, David Otto, as saying that Boko Haram will "surely react" by expanding its violence farther south in Cameroon.
    "The government has no clue on the potential martyrdom effects this will create," Otto said. "One must be reminded that no amount of punishment frightens a man who is not afraid of death."
    Boko Haram aims to institute Sharia, or Islamic law. It has killed at least 20,000 people since its insurgency began in Nigeria in 2009 and spread to neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.