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Thieves steal file on slain DRC activist

31 May 2013, 21:40

Kinshasa - Thieves have stolen the legal case-file on Floribert Chebeya, a prominent human rights activist murdered in June 2010 in Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the association Voix des Sans Voix (VSV - Voice of the Voiceless), which he founded.

On Wednesday night, the burglars broke into the offices of lawyer Jean-Marie Kabengela Ilunga and stole "a television set, a sum of money, books [and] a bag containing the file in the affair of Floribert Chebeya and Fidele Bazana", his driver who disappeared, the non-governmental organisation said in a statement received Friday.

Before this "evidently planned robbery", the lawyer received "anonymous phone calls", VSV added. "The people at the other end of the line said not a word and this happened, strangely, whenever Mr Ilunga wanted to enter or leave his offices."

VSV "once more reiterates its deep concerns following the recurrent insecurity that has hung over the lawyers in the matter of the double murder" of Chebeya and his driver, who is presumed dead, the statement said.

Chebeya, 47, was summoned on June 1, 2010, by the then chief of national police, General John Numbi, who later denied setting up any meeting, but was suspended from his duties over the affair.

Chebeya's body was found the following day in his car and his wrists showed traces of having been handcuffed. Bazana's body vanished completely.

The murder of the well-known rights activist led to many protests and several arrests, while Western nations demanded clarification of the affair and appropriate legal action.

On June 23 2011, the military court in Kinshasa convicted the deputy chief of police special services, Colonel Daniel Mukalay, and sentenced him to death, together with three police officers tried in their absence because they had fled. A fourth was sent to jail and three others acquitted.

The condemned men, who appealed, have again been on trial since June 19 last year before the high military court in the capital, but after long interruptions, proceedings were suspended last May 7, pending a ruling by the constitutional court on a claim of irregularities by civil parties in the case.



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