Cameroon releases minister suspected of embezzling public funds

YAOUNDE Tue Apr 1, 2014 5:59pm EDT

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YAOUNDE (Reuters) - A Cameroon minister has been release from jail a day after he was arrested and remanded in custody on suspected embezzlement of public funds, the Central African Nation's government spokesman said on Tuesday.

Louis Bapes Bapes, minister for secondary education, was arrested on Monday on instructions from a judge of the country's Special Criminal Tribunal.

The court was created in 2012 to try officials suspected of embezzling sums equal or above 50 million CFA francs ($105,100).

"Today, the judge decided to release him," Issa Tchiroma Bakary, the country's communication minister, told a news conference late on Tuesday. He did not give any details why the minister was release.

Bapes Bapes, who declined to make any comment after his release, is the first sitting minister to be arrested under President Paul Biya, 81, one of Africa's longest serving heads of state. Biya, who came to power in 1982, launched "Operation Sparrow Hawk" in 2006 to combat corruption.

(Reporting by Anne Mireille Nzouankeu; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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