Geneva cantonal police said in a statement they had “identified six members of Cameroon President Paul Biya’s security service” for the attack on June 26th, and had placed them under arrest.
Last week, a journalist with Swiss broadcaster RTS, Adrian Krause, filed a criminal complaint stating he was assaulted by a group of men outside Geneva’s luxury Intercontinental Hotel, where Biya is believed to have been staying since June 23rd.
He said he had been filming a clash between around a dozen demonstrators against Cameroon’s 86-year-old president and men he believed to be the president’s security detail, when the men attacked him and grabbed his equipment, wallet and phone.
He was slightly injured in the assault and his possessions were damaged, police said.
The attack spurred Bern to summon Cameroon’s ambassador last week to inform him that “such incidents are unacceptable,” and that “freedom of the press is protected and must be respected,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Georg Farago told the AFP news agency.
Geneva police confirmed Wednesday that six suspects were members of Biya’s security staff.
“They were arrested on July 2, 2019, and five of them were put at the disposal of the prosecution authority,” it said in a statement.
The five remaining in detention were all men, while the sixth suspect, a woman, had been released because she held a diplomatic passport, police explained.
“The attorney general, who is in charge of the procedure, questioned and confronted the parties today. The hearing will continue this afternoon,” Wednesday’s police statement said, stressing that the suspects “benefit from the presumption of innocence.”
The announcement came after a violent demonstration against Biya shook Geneva’s international neighbourhood over the weekend, with riot-gear-clad police firing a water cannon and tear gas at angry protestors trying to reach the five-start Intercontinental Hotel.
Several protesters told AFP they wanted to “expel” Biya, who has run Cameroon since 1982, from the hotel, where he often stays for long periods, reportedly to seek Swiss medical treatment.
And last week, dozens of protestors managed to enter the hotel and reportedly scuffled with Biya’s security staff inside the lobby.
The president appeared to still be staying at the hotel on Wednesday. Members of his security staff remained stationed outside, and a large police contingent was also visible.