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Democratic Republic of Congo21 April 2006

A second journalist arrest in defamation case

Reporters Without Borders condemned abusive jailing of journalists after the arrest on 20 April of a second journalist on the weekly Lubilanji Expansion in connection with a defamation case.

Kazabi Kwamdi Kasumpata was questioned by a prosecutor over alleged “defamatory statements” he made about the Protestant University of Congo (UPC) in an article in which he accused its management of embezzlement. He was set to spend the weekend at the court jail in Kinshasa.

“Congo’s courts seem to consider defamation sufficient justification for forcing a journalist to go to prison, before being released, often after paying bail,” said the press freedom organisation. “It is not acceptable that journalists should be abusively imprisoned and offences of defamation should urgently be decriminalised”.

Kasumpata was brought before the magistrate, Edmond Isofa Ipanga, over an article that appeared in the weekly’s edition no. 188 covering 7-14 March, in which he alleged embezzlement and mismanagement against UPC officials.

The weekly’s editor, Arthur Tshimanga Kaputu, was arrested on 18 April by a magistrate, accompanied by two police offices, following a complaint from the rector of the university.

He was held and questioned for three days over an editor’s note which accompanied a correction to the article on the UPC, in the 7-14 April edition (no. 190), in which he said the newspaper would “not give way to intimidation and threats” made against it. In reply, the UPC reserved its right to take the case before the courts. Kaputu was released on 21 April.

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