Democratic Republic of the Congo : Attempted murder of the wide of a police officer, prosecuted in the Chebeya-Bazana affair

Press release
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Paris-Geneva, 14 July 2014. While any attempt to shed light on the double assassination of human rights defenders in 2010 seems blocked in DRC, and a complaint was lodged by FIDH and the families of the victims in Senegal within the context of the same affair, the wife of a police officer who is accused and a witness of the crime survived an attempted abduction and assasination at Lumbumbashi. The Observatory for the protection of human rights defenders, joint FIDH and OMCT programme, urges the Congolese justice system to shed led on this attempt at intimidation, that aims to prevent the witnesses from speaking.

On 5 July 2014, the wife of Paul Mwilambwe, former police officer, was assaulted, according to her testimonial, by two other former police officers, who, with him, were sentenced to death in absentia in June 2011 by a military court for the murder of MM. Floribert Chebeya, executive director of « the voice of the voiceless » (VSV) and member of the OMCT General Assembly, and Fidèle Bazana, member of the VSV.

According to Me Timothée Mbuya, from the NGO Justicia asbl, shortly before, the victim was contacted by phone by Jacques Mubago and Christian Ngoy Kenga Kenga, two people close to the general John Numbi. The two former police officers were asking her to convince Paul Mwilambwe to return. MM. Mwilambwe, Mugabo and Ngoy are all three in flight since the double assassination.
In view of this information, the latter two are in DRC and circulate with total freedom despite their sentencing during the first-instance trial concerning the double assassination of Floribert Chebeya and Fidèle Bazana in 2011.

As she was on her way back from the market, Paul Mwilambwe’s wife was assaulted by Jacques Mugabo who kicked her feet out from under her, snatched her bag and threatened her of death if she did not give in. She then started calling for help, drawing the attention of the public around her. M. Mugabo then tried to draw his gun, without success, and finally let her go to run away with the bag and rush into the car of a person identified by the victim as the Major Thierry Mande, the private secretary of General Numbi.

The NGO Justicia confirmed the presence of MM. Mugabo and Ngoy at Lubumbashi for quite some time. According to the gathered information, the day following the announcement of the action taken in Senegal within the Chebeya-Bazana affair, Paul Mwilambwe’s wife said she received two calls from John Numbi and Christian Ngoy themselves, and since then, she is under discreet surveillance day and night.

In flight in Senegal, Paul Mwilambwe had testified before France 24’s camera and had denouced, in addition to its participation, the rôle and implication of senior Congolese police officers, including General John Numbi, in the assasination and forced disparition of the two human rights defenders, and is the subject of a complaint filed by the families of the two defenders in Senegal on the basis on universal jurisdiction.

The Observatory fears that this attempt of aggression only aims at intimidating Paul Mwilambwe so he does not testify about the rôle and implication of General John Numbi in the assassination of the two human rights defenders and calls the authorities to :
 ensure the security of the witnesses and their families
 conduct an impartial and independent investigation on this attempted assault
 proceed to the immediate arrest of Jacques Mugabo and Christian Ngoy Kenga Kenga

Background :

In the night of the 1st to the 2nd June 2010, M. Chebeya’s body was found in his car at the exit of Kinshasa. The body of M. Bazana, who was accompanying him, has never been found.

On 23 June 2011, the Military court of Kinshasa-Gombe recognized the civil responsability of the Congolese state in the assassination of M. Chebeya, as well as in the abduction and illegal detention of M. Bazana by several of its agents. It sentenced 5 of the 8 accused police officers, 4 of which were sentenced to the capital sentence and one to life-imprisonment.

A judicial observation mission of the Observatory on the trial conducted before the military Court had revealed many dysfunctions which prevented the justiciary system from establishing the responsabilities of this double assasination. Indeed, senior police officers, including the General John Numbi, suspected of having ordered the killing, did not appear on the list of the accused. This situation of impunity had shed serious doubts upon the full independence of the justiciary system in this affair. The mission report called on the authorities to re-open the investigation, ensure the independence, completeness and impartiality of the judicial proceeding, and to bring to justice, before a competent, independent and impartial court all the perpetrators. Three of the people sentenced to death were in hiding, and three police officers, whose judicial investigation had shown the rôle played in the disappearance of evidence, were acquitted.

On 7 May 2013, the High Military court, seised as an appellate instance, declared itself incompetent to rule on two prejudicial questions that were raised by the civil parties and decided to seise the Supreme Court of Justice, which serves as a constitutional court, suspending the consideration of the appeal, without giving the date of a new hearing.

For more information, please read the 24 June 2011 judicial observation mission :


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