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Democratic Republic of Congo31 August 2006

Three suspects arrested for murdering journalist last month in Kinshasa

The police have arrested three men on suspicion of carrying out the murder of journalist Bapuwa Mwamba, who was gunned down in his Kinshasa home on the night of 7 July, Gen. Patrick Sabiti of the Kinshasa provincial police inspectorate announced today.

The three suspects are former soldier Vungu “Manassé” Mbembo, former poacher Mangenele Lowayi José and Nkunku Makwala "Sekula". Described as known repeat offenders, they were shown to the press.

Sabiti said they were arrested on 25 July in the southwestern city of Matadi in possession of a firearm allegedly used in the murder. Prior to they murder, they had burgled Mwamba’s home on 8 March, he said.

08.07.2006 - Second journalist gunned down in space of eight months

Reporters Without Borders voiced dismay today at the murder of journalist Bapuwa Mwamba by three gunmen who forced their way into his home in the Kinshasa district of Matete in the early hours of 8 July. He was the second journalist to be killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo by a group of gunmen in the space of eight months.

“We are extremely disturbed by the climate of violence against journalists just a few weeks before the presidential election,” the press freedom organisation said, offering its condolences to Mwamba’s family and friends. “We call on the Congolese government to do everything possible to guarantee the security of the media, especially as the election campaign has just opened with a journalist being slain.”

The presidential election is to be held on 30 July. The election campaign formally began on 29 June.

“It is crucial that there should be a serious investigation in which all possible hypotheses are explored so that the circumstances of this dreadful murder can be clearly established,” Reporters Without Borders added.

Witnesses told investigators that two of the gunmen who went to Mwamba’s home wore civilian clothes while the third had military-style trousers. Mwamba’s nephew fled as they arrived, and went to alert the police. When he returned, he found his uncle lying in a pool of blood, with a gunshot wound to his left thigh.

A former correspondent of the Paris-based magazine Jeune Afrique Economie, Mwamba, 64, worked for several Kinshasa newspapers including the opposition daily Le Phare. Last March armed robbers forced their way into his home and took money. A military court based in his neighbourhood has begun an investigation into his murder.

Franck “Ngyke” Kangundu, a journalist with the independent daily La Référence Plus and father of five children, was murdered together with his wife, Hélène Mpaka, outside their Kinshasa home by four hooded gunmen on the night of 3 November 2005. The trial of their alleged killers is scheduled to start soon.

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