Congo court sentences policemen to death over murder


A military court in Democratic Republic of Congo sentenced four policemen to death and jailed a fifth for life for the killing last year of a prominent human rights campaigner.

The killing in June last year of Floribert Chebeya, who headed Congolese rights group Voice of the Voiceless, underscored rights abuses in Congo at a time it was trying to secure billions of dollars in debt relief.

Three of the policemen were tried in absentia as they are still on the run and three others were acquitted in the case, which has been seen as a test of the former Belgian colony’s notoriously weak justice system, Reuters reports.

Chebeya’s body was found bound and gagged in the back of his own car on June 2 last year, after he was called to a meeting with the Congolese head of police, General John Numbi.

The meeting with Numbi never took place and he was not on trial, although he was suspended following the killing.

Numbi’s second-in-command, Daniel Mukalay, was one of those sentenced to death. Chebeya’s driver is still missing.

Human rights activists are frequently harassed in Congo and the killing prompted widespread international criticism amid a race to secure debt relief and hold lavish independence celebrations.