Police killer of Congo activist sentenced to death

A Congolese military court has sentenced a high-ranking policeman to death for his role in the 2010 murder of human rights activist, Floribert Chebeya, which caused national outrage.

Commissioner of Police, Christian Ngoy Kenga Kenga, was found guilty of murder, desertion and misappropriation of weapons and ammunition.

Mr Chebeya’s body was found bound and gagged in his car in Kinshasa.

There was a moratorium on capital punishments in DR Congo.

However, the death penalty has not been abolished and military courts continued to hand down such sentences.

Another policeman, Jacques Migabo, was also sentenced to 12 years during the trial.

He admitted to having strangled Mr Chebeya and his driver, Fidèle Bazana.

Police commissioner, Paul Mwilambwe, who had been a key witness in the trial, was acquitted, United Nations (UN)-sponsored Radio Okapi said.

Mr Mwilambwe, who had been a fugitive since the murder and was only repatriated last year, named ex-President, Joseph Kabila, and the former head of police, General John Numbi, as having ordered the killing.

Neither Mr Kabila nor Gen Numbi have commented publicly, but a military court has charged the general with the murder of Mr Chebeya and his driver.

He has fled the country and his current whereabouts were not known.

Kenga, Migabo and Mr Mwilambwe were initially sentenced to death in 2011, with Kenga arrested in 2020 in the southern city of Lubumbashi before the case was re-opened last September.

Mr Chebeya led the Congolese charity Voice of the Voiceless, and as a prominent critic of the government received regular death threats during his career of more than 20 years.

He went to the police headquarters to meet the then head of the national police force, Gen Numbi, on the day he was killed.

His drive, Mr Bazana, also went missing that day with authorities later pronouncing him dead.

The killing of Mr Chebeya prompted widespread international condemnation.

The recent history of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) has been one of civil war and corruption.

DR Congo is a vast country with immense economic resources and, until recently, has been at the centre of what some observers call “Africa’s world war”, with widespread civilian suffering the result.

The war claimed an up to six million lives, either as a direct result of fighting or because of disease and malnutrition. -BBC

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