The verdict and sentence has been passed on the eight policemen accused of the murder of human rights activist, Floribert Chebeya in June 2010. Four have received the death penalty, one a twenty year sentence and three are aquitted. The DRC govt. will pay money to the family of Chebeya and his driver who disappeared at the time.
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 last year on a road near Kinshasa. His wrists bore the traces of handcuffs. The activist’s driver, Fidele Bazana, disappeared at the same time.
A day earlier, Chebeya had gone to police headquarters in Kinshasa for a meeting with the national police chief Inspector General John Numbi. On arrival, Mr Chebeya sent a text message to his wife saying that he was at the police headquarters for the meeting. He was not heard from again until his body was found bound and gagged in the back of his car.
The trial started in November 2010 with up to 300 people attending. Three of the accused have been tried in absentia. These were the head of the elite battalion “Simba”, his bodyguard and a police protocol chief.
Plaintiffs wanted Inspector General Numbi to stand trial also but, despite being suspended from his post, Numbi has not faced charges. Numbi denied setting up the meeting with Chebeya when standing as a witness during the trial.
The verdict came after a week of delays caused by a judge being sick. The fact that the delay was not announced in court caused Dolly Ibefo, Voix des Sans Voix director, to say “This trial is a joke.”
Among those sentenced to death was Colonel Daniel Mukalay, deputy head of the police special service, and the other three were those tried in absentia. Another officer was sentenced to life (20 years) in prison. The remaining three were acquitted.
The prosecution were calling for the death penalty for five of the accused and for life for the others. During the trial they claimed they would appeal due to the unfair and political nature of the proceedings. It is uncertain whether they shall do so