Posts Tagged ‘Fidèle Bazana’

DR Congo should reopen inquiry into murder of Floribert Chebeya

February 12, 2021

A man wearing a T-shirt with portraits of Floribert Chebeya and Fidèle Bazana attends the trial in Kinshasa on April 30, 2013 of policemen accused of killing the two men in 2010.
A man wearing a T-shirt with portraits of Floribert Chebeya and Fidèle Bazana attends the trial in Kinshasa on April 30, 2013 of policemen accused of killing the two men in 2010. © 2013 Junior D. Kannah/AFP via Getty Images

On 11 February 2021 Human Rights Watch stated that The Democratic Republic of Congo government should reopen its investigation into the 2010 double murder of the leading human rights defender Floribert Chebeya and his driver, Fidèle Bazana, following new revelations about the case. Amid allegations reported by international media outlets that the murders were carried out on the orders of the police chief at that time, Gen. John Numbi, Human Rights Watch called for a credible, impartial, and independent inquiry.

On February 8, 2021, in radio interviews with Radio France Internationale (RFI) and Deutsche Welle, two Congolese police officers in exile admitted to taking part in the murders of Chebeya and Bazana on the premises of police headquarters on June 1, 2010 and provided a detailed account of the murder. At a meeting in April 2019, President Felix Tshisekedi personally told Chebeya’s wife and human rights groups that he was committed to conducting an impartial investigation into the murder.

President Tshisekedi should put his words about investigating the Chebeya murder into action,” said Thomas Fessy, senior Congo researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The latest revelations show the need for a new inquiry and present the best chance to see that justice is done.

On June 1, 2010, Chebeya received a telephone call asking him to attend a meeting at General Numbi’s office. The next day, the police said that Chebeya had been found dead in his car in the Mont Ngafula area of Kinshasa, the capital. The body of his driver, Bazana, is still missing.

Speaking to RFI and Deutsche Welle from an undisclosed location abroad, the former police drivers Hergil Ilunga and Alain Kayeye revealed details about the plan to kill Chebeya and how it was carried out. They alleged that police officers asphyxiated Chebeya and Bazana, one after the other, in different police vehicles at the police headquarters.

They admitted to taking part in the murders and covering them up on the orders of Col. Daniel Mukalay, then the police intelligence chief, and Christian Ngoy, then the commander of the feared Simba battalion. The two former drivers said that both senior officers were acting upon Numbi’s instructions.

Ilunga and Kayeye said they would be ready to face justice if their safety were guaranteed. They claimed to have fled Congo in late 2020 for fear of their lives as Numbi was allegedly looking to kill them.

Chebeya was among Congo’s most vocal human rights defenders, regularly exposing abuses by the country’s security services and successive governments over many years. He was threatened and intimidated repeatedly by Congolese authorities because of his work. He received the now defunct Reebok award: https://www.trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/laureates/BA601D45-292F-61CB-530A-17FE52D5F974

Following a widely criticized trial by a military court – with a first verdict in June 2011 and an appeal decision in September 2015 – four police officers were found guilty of murdering Chebeya and Bazana. Ngoy, along with Paul Mwilambwe and Jacques Mugabo, were tried in absentia and sentenced to death. Mukalay, the highest-ranking officer on trial, was sentenced to 15 years in prison and is currently serving his sentence at Kinshasa’s central prison. The military court also found the Congolese government at fault and ordered it to pay damages to the families of both victims.

When the trial began in November 2010, Numbi, then police inspector general, was presented to the court as a witness even though he was widely suspected to be behind the murders. In 2014, one of the fugitives, Mwilambwe, resurfaced in Senegal, where he accused Numbi of orchestrating the murders. Senegalese authorities opened an investigation and Mwilambwe was indicted in January 2015. But the proceedings stalled, and the investigation is ongoing in Senegal. Mwilambwe, a presumed key witness, has since moved to Belgium and has also said he was ready to stand trial. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2015/01/13/indictment-in-senegal-a-breakthrough-in-the-congolese-chebeya-bazana-case/]

On September 3, 2020, Ngoy was arrested in Lubumbashi and immediately transferred to Ndolo military prison in Kinshasa for possession of illegal weapons. Following his arrest, Congolese human rights organizations said that the authorities should reopen the Chebeya case.

Following these new revelations, over 100 Congolese human rights groups called for the immediate arrest of Gen. Numbi and the reopening of Chebeya’s case. Ambassadors in Congo from the EU, Belgium, and the US have also all publicly backed reopening the inquiry. The United Nations Joint Human Rights Office said it was “available to assist the judiciary in shedding light on the despicable murder of Chebeya and Bazana.”

“The Chebeya and Bazana families have yet to learn the full truth and obtain justice for the gruesome killings of their loved ones,” Fessy said. “With these new revelations, the Congolese government needs to act. The judiciary should provide safe conditions to hear those who have come forward while General Numbi and other senior officials implicated in the murders should be fully and fairly investigated.”

https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/02/11/dr-congo-reopen-inquiry-prominent-activists-murder

Indictment in Senegal a breakthrough in the Congolese Chebeya-Bazana case?

January 13, 2015

Paul Mwilambwe, a major suspect in the Congolese Chebeya-Bazana case was indicted by a Senegalese court and placed under judicial supervision in Dakar on 8 January 2015. This decision was taken following a criminal complaint based on universal jurisdiction filed on 2 June 2014 by lawyers of the FIDH Litigation Action Group (LAG) and the families of Floribert Chebeya and Fidèle Bazana, the two Congolese human rights defenders who were assassinated in June 2010. FIDH hopes that these efforts of the Senegalese judicial authorities contribute to identifying the persons responsible for these assassinations and the disappearance of these two human rights defenders.logo FIDH_seul

That Paul Mwilanbwe has been indicted and heard by an independent investigative judge is a fundamental step on the road to truth and, we hope, to the justice which has not been available to the victims’ families in DRC” , said Patrick Baudouin, FIDH Honorary President. “This is the first time since the Hissène Habré case that a case based on extra-territorial jurisdiction is being tried in Senegal, a step which sends a strong, positive signal showing that the Senegalese judiciary intends to play an active role in the fight against impunity for the most serious crimes committed in Africa”.

Since the Democratic Republic of Congo did not provide for equitable judicial proceedings, we initiated the proceedings in Senegal to ensure that an impartial and independent investigation would be carried out and that full information would be obtained on the murder and the enforced disappearance of the victims, Floribert Chebeya and Fidèle Bazana. We wanted an independent judge to hear Paul Mwilambe, an actor in this tragedy, and this has happened today,” said Assane Dioma Ndiaye, a lawyer for the FIDH LAG and for the Chebeya and Bazana families.

Paul Mwilambwe, a major in the Congolese National Police force (PNC), was in charge of security for the office of General John Numbi, Head of the PNC at the time of the events, in the premises where Floribert Chebeya and Fidèle Bazana were killed. Shortly after these killings, Paul Mwilambwe fled to a country somewhere in Africa before going to Senegal. In a filmed interview with France 24 (in French), whilst still on the run, Mwilambwe testified and denounced his own participation and the role and involvement of senior members of the Congolese police, including General John Numbi in the enforced disappearance and murder of the two human rights defenders.

“For us, this indictment gives us great hope to obtain the truth and justice that was refused to us in Congo where the justice system is bogged down. I want to know where my husband was buried. I want someone to tell me where he is. And I want to be able to bury him with dignity” , said Marie-José Bazana, the wife of Fidèle Bazana whose body has still not been found.

https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/death-of-floribert-chebeya-and-fidele-bazana-in-drc-still-unresolved-after-3-years/

[Background: On 2 June 2010, Floribert Chebeya, Executive Director of the NGO Voix des sans Voix (Voice of the Voiceless – VSV), was found dead in his car in a suburb of Kinshasa. His close associate Fidele Bazana was reported missing. The day before, the two human rights defenders had shown up at PNC headquarters to meet with its Director, the Inspector-General, and General John Numbi. They did not emerge from this meeting alive. Faced with the public outcry triggered by the murder of Mr. Chebeya and disappearance of Mr. Bazana, the Congolese authorities were obliged to open an investigation. This investigation culminated in the precautionary suspension of General John Numbi and the imposition of murder indictments for eight police officers, including Paul Mwilambwe, who fled.

On 23 June 2011, following a trial marked by numerous incidents the military court on 23 June 2011 in Kinshasa acknowledged the civil responsibility of the Congolese state for the murder of Mr. Chebeya, as well as in the abduction and illegal detention of Mr. Bazana by several of its officers. The court convicted five of the eight police officers accused. Four were sentenced to death and one to life imprisonment. Three of those condemned to death are still on the run, and three of the police officers found to have played a role in the disappearance of Mr. Bazana, have since been acquitted. On 7 May 2013, the Military High Court, sitting as a court of appeal, declared itself incompetent to investigate the procedural issues in the case and decided to turn the proceedings over to the Supreme Court, operating as a constitutional court. In practice, this decision suspended the appeal proceedings, which remain deadlocked in DRC to date. In addition, Congolese authorities have never instituted proceedings to investigate the role played by General John Numbi, who has since been replaced as Head of the PNC, despite evidence and the complaints filed by the families of the two human rights defenders.]

The Chebeya-Bazana case: indictment of Paul Mwilambwe in (…).

Death of Floribert Chebeya and Fidèle Bazana in DRC still unresolved after 3 years

June 10, 2013

It has been 3 years since Floribert Chebeya and Fidèle Bazana were killed at the hands of the Police of the Democratic Republic of Congo, after been summoned by the Head of the Police, General John Protection Int'I_logo_final_vertical_72dpiNumbi. To date, the Congolese Military Justice, who deals with this matter, has refused to prosecute General Numbi and has merely judged his accomplices even though it knows the truth, thereby showing total allegiance to the political and military regime. Specific and detailed revelations of one of the protagonists on this case, Commander Paul Mwilambwe, leaves no doubt about on the subject. Read the rest of this entry »