Paris-Geneva, 14 July 2014. While any attempt to shed light on thedouble assassination of human rights defenders in 2010 seems blocked in the DRC,and a complaint was lodged by FIDH and the families of the victims in Senegalwithin the context of the same affair, the wife of a police officer who isaccused and a witness of the crime survived an attempted abduction and assassinationat Lumbumbashi. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders,joint FIDH and OMCT programme, urges the Congolese justice system to shed ledon this attempt at intimidation, that aims to prevent the witnesses fromspeaking.
On5 July 2014, the wife of Paul Mwilambwe, former police officer, was assaulted,according to her testimonial, by two other former police officers, who, withhim, were sentenced to death in absentia in June 2011 by a military court forthe murder of Messrs. Floribert Chebeya,Executive Director of « the Voice of the Voiceless » (VSV) and a memberof the OMCT General Assembly, and Fidèle Bazana, member ofthe VSV.
According to Mr. Timothée Mbuya, from the NGO Justicia asbl, shortly before,the victim was contacted by phone by Jacques Mubago and Christian Ngoy KengaKenga, two people close to the General John Numbi. The two former policeofficers were asking her to convince Paul Mwilambwe to return. Messrs.Mwilambwe, Mugabo and Ngoy are all three in flight since the doubleassassination.
Inview of this information, the latter two are in DRC and circulate with totalfreedom despite their sentencing during the first-instance trial concerning thedouble assassination of Floribert Chebeya and Fidèle Bazana in 2011.
As she was on her way back from the market, Paul Mwilambwe’s wife was assaultedby Jacques Mugabo who kicked her feet out from under her, snatched her bag andthreatened her of death if she did not give in. She then started calling forhelp, drawing the attention of the public around her. M. Mugabo then tried todraw his gun, without success, and finally let her go to run away with the bagand rush into the car of a person identified by the victim as the Major ThierryMande, the private secretary of General Numbi.
The NGO Justicia confirmed the presence of Messrs. Mugabo and Ngoy atLubumbashi for quite some time. According to the gathered information, the dayfollowing the announcement of the action taken in Senegal within the Chebeya-Bazanaaffair, Paul Mwilambwe’s wife said she received two calls from John Numbi andChristian Ngoy themselves, and since then, she is under discreet surveillanceday and night.
On the run in Senegal, Paul Mwilambwe had testified before France 24’s cameraand had denounced, in addition to its participation, the role and implicationof senior Congolese police officers, including General John Numbi, in the assassinationand forced disappearance of the two human rights defenders, and is the subjectof a complaint filed by the families of the two defenders in Senegal on thebasis on universal jurisdiction.
The Observatory fears that this attempt of aggression only aims at intimidatingPaul Mwilambwe so he does not testify about the role and implication of GeneralJohn Numbi in the assassination of the two human rights defenders and calls theauthorities to:
- ensure the security of the witnessesand their families
- conduct an impartial and independentinvestigation on this attempted assault
- proceed to the immediate arrest ofJacques Mugabo and Christian Ngoy Kenga Kenga
In the night of the 1st to the 2nd June 2010, Mr. Chebeya’s body was found inhis car at the exit of Kinshasa. The body of Mr. Bazana, who was accompanyinghim, has never been found.
On 23 June 2011, the Military court of Kinshasa-Gombe recognized the civil responsibilityof the Congolese State in the assassination of Mr. Chebeya, as well as in theabduction and illegal detention of Mr. Bazana by several of its agents. Itsentenced 5 of the 8 accused police officers, 4 of which were sentenced to thecapital sentence and one to life-imprisonment.
A judicial observation mission of the Observatory on the trial conducted beforethe military Court had revealed many dysfunctions, which prevented the judiciarysystem from establishing the responsibilities of this double assassination.Indeed, senior police officers, including the General John Numbi, suspected ofhaving ordered the killing, did not appear on the list of the accused. Thissituation of impunity had shed serious doubts upon the full independence of thejudiciary system in this affair. The mission report called on the authoritiesto re-open the investigation, ensure the independence, completeness andimpartiality of the judicial proceeding, and to bring to justice, before acompetent, independent and impartial court all the perpetrators. Three of thepeople sentenced to death were in hiding, and three police officers, whosejudicial investigation had shown the role played in the disappearance ofevidence, were acquitted.
On 7 May 2013, the High Military court, seized as an appellate instance,declared itself incompetent to rule on two prejudicial questions that wereraised by the civil parties and decided to seize the Supreme Court of Justice,which serves as a constitutional court, suspending the consideration of theappeal, without giving the date of a new hearing.
For more information, please read the 24June 2011 ObservatoryJudicial Observation Mission report.