The appeal of eight policemen accused of killing a leading rights activist in 2010 opened at…
The appeal of eight policemen accused of killing a leading rights activist in 2010 opened at Democratic Republic of Congo’s top military court Tuesday.
Five of the eight policemen appeared in court, with three men on the run.
A total of five officers were convicted in June 2011 of murdering Floribert Chebeya a year earlier.
Four of them, including a deputy police chief, were given the death penalty and a fifth sentenced to life in prison for complicity in the killing.
Three other police were acquitted but were summoned to the appeal along with their convicted colleagues.
Chebeya, founder and director of the rights group la Voix des Sans Voix (Voice of the Voiceless), was found dead in the back of his car on June 2, 2010 on a road near Kinshasa.
His wrists bore the traces of handcuffs and his legs showed signs of a beating.
A day earlier the 47-year-old had gone to police headquarters in Kinshasa, saying he had been called to a meeting with the national police chief Inspector General John Numbi.
The activist’s driver Fidele Bazana, who accompanied him, has disappeared.
In his evidence at the trial in 2011, Numbi said he had never set up a meeting with Chebeya.
Among those sentenced to death last year was Colonel Daniel Mukalay, deputy head of the police intelligence.
The three others given the death penalty — said by the court to be the actual killers — were sentenced in absentia and are still on the run.
The death penalty can be ordered by courts in the Democratic Republic of Congo but it has not been carried out since President Joseph Kabila took power in 2001.
Chebeya’s death sparked outrage from national and international rights campaigners as well as from the United Nations, United States and European Union.
The appeal continues on July 17.