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Med Trop (Mars). 2009 Jun;69(3):255-62.

[Characteristics of murder and attempted murder in Cameroon. Study based on expert psychiatric court reports].

[Article in French]

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Service de Psychiatrie, Hôpital Jamot, B.P 25254, Messa Yaoundé, Faculté de Médecine et des Sciences Biomédicales (FMSB), Université de Yaoundé I, Cameroun.


The purpose of this study was to describe the sociodemographic, psychopathologic and criminological features associated with homicide based on review of expert psychiatric court reports describing murder and attempted murder perpetrators examined at Jamot Hospital in Yaoundé, Cameroon. The study cohort comprised reports describing 12 offenders who were examined at the request of ajudge or public prosecutor from March 1, 2002 to July 31, 2006. There were 8 men (66.7%) and 4 women (33.3%) with a mean age of 18.3 years (range, 17 to 43 years). In 8 cases the criminal act coincided with a difficult period in the offender's life. In the remaining 4 cases the act could not be linked to a specific life event. Assaults were carried out by strangulation, battery, or stabbing (knifes or machetes) in 87.5% of cases and occurred at the victim's home in 68.8% of cases. The main mental disorders diagnosed using the ICD-10 classification were schizophrenia in 41.7% of cases (n = 5), chronic delirium in 25.0% (n = 3), and personality disorder in 8.3 % (n = 1). Nine offenders (75.0%) had a history of mental disorder including 8 within at least six months preceding the assault. Four offenders had already received psychiatric treatment including 2 who required hospitalization following one or more episodes of psychotic decompensation. There were a total of 16 victims including 14 that died and 2 that were seriously wounded but survived thanks to prompt medical attention. The victims included 8 males and 8 females with 11 children (68.7%) and 5 adults (31.3%). In the child group 9 victims died (81.8%) and 2 survived (18.2%). Except one 17-year-old teenager, the 6 female and 3 male child victims were between the ages of 18 months and 8 years. The adult victims included 1 female and 4 males. The main findings of this study were the high incidence of mental disease, especially schizophrenics (66.7%), associated with homicide and the high number of child victims (62.5%). The first finding underlines the public danger of releasing mental patients without psychiatric care or assistance. The second finding highlights the special vulnerability of children and raises questions about the need for special protection and preventive measures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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