Investigative reporter Maurice Kayombo of the privately-owned monthly Les Grands Enjeux was released yesterday on the orders of justice and human rights minister Symphorien Mutombo Bakafua Nsenda, the Reporters Without Borders partner organisation in Democratic Republic of Congo, Journalist in Danger (JED), said.
Kayombo was arrested on 9 January when he went to interview ministry of mines secretary-general Christophe Kaninio, and was charged with blackmail and “disparaging an official.” He had been researching a story about possible irregularities in the allocation of mining contracts.
15.01.2007 - Investigative journalist arrested after being invited to ministry of mines
Reporters Without Borders today called on the authorities to explain how Maurice Kayombo, an investigative reporter for the privately-owned monthly Les Grands Enjeux, came to be detained. Arrested on 9 January while interviewing the secretary-general of the ministry of mines in his office, he has been charged with blackmail and “disparaging an official.”
“In the absence of a detailed explanation of Kayombo’s arrest and the charges brought against him, it seems that he fell into a trap set by a senior official who wanted to punish him for being too curious,” the press freedom organisation said. “If this is the case, the authorities must order his immediate release. The suggestion that he was trying to blackmail the ministry does not seem plausible.”
According to Journalist in Danger (JED), the Reporters Without Borders partner organisation in Democratic Republic of Congo, Kayombo was arrested by plain-clothes police when he went to interview ministry of mines secretary-general Christophe Kaninio. After being held for three days at the internal affairs section of the judicial police, he was transferred to a holding cell at the Kinshasa/Gombe courthouse. He told JED, which managed to see him after his arrest, that he went to see Kaninio at the latter’s invitation to verify information he had obtained.
Kayombo was researching a story about possible irregularities in the allocation of mining contracts. The latest issue of Les Grands Enjeux, a quality magazine that is produced in South Africa and is distributed in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi, has an editorial about alleged hidden commissions being paid in an “enormous financial rip-off” and “clientelism, complicity and dictates from the political authorities in questionable and clearly unfair deals.”
Congolese journalists interviewed by Reporters Without Borders said Les Grands Enjeux had financial backing from businessmen in Katanga who felt they had been swindled by those responsible for managing mining contracts.