Kabila spared from testifying in rights activists murder case

Thursday January 20 2022
Former DR Congo president Joseph Kabila

Former DR Congo president Joseph Kabila who has been spared from testifying in a case in which his administration is accused of killing two rights activists while in a police cell. FILE PHOTO | AFP


The military court in Kinshasa has spared former DR Congo president Joseph Kabila from testifying in a case in which his administration is accused of killing two rights activists while in a police cell.

The court said on Wednesday that it had declined a request by the party pushing for justice for the two activists identified as Floribert Chebeya and Fidèle Bazana.

Floribert Chebeya was killed in a police station in Kinshasa in June 2010. His driver, Fidèle Bazana, who had accompanied him, disappeared and his body was never found. He is presumed dead as the court concluded that he too had been murdered.

A police colonel was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the murder. But the case was reopened in September 2021, leading to several twists and turns.

Police officers suspected of having participated in the double murder and other witnesses have given various statements naming several names.

One such statement was given by Paul Mwilambwe, one of the police officers assigned to guard John Numbi, the former inspector-general of police who is now considered by civil society and the families of the victims to have ordered the double assassination.



Civil society groups have demanded that the senior government personalities, including Joseph Kabila, appear in court to testify.

Others include the auditor-general of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) at the time, the mayor of the town of Limete in Kinshasa,  John Numbi’s own diary man and an inspector of the Congolese police (now on the run).

Lawyers for the families of the victims, who were hoping for Mr Kabila's appearance to "bring out the whole truth" about what they consider to be "a state crime", say they are disappointed by this decision. But they say they will announce their official position to the court. The trial will continue next Wednesday in Kinshasa.

Under Congolese law, former presidents are granted immunity against crimes committed or omitted while in office. According to this law, "any former elected president enjoys immunity from criminal prosecution for acts committed in the exercise of his functions".