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D.R. Congo9 September 2003

Journalist freed after five days

Guy Kasongo Kilembwe, editor-in-chief of the satirical newspaper "Pot-Pourri", was released on 4 September. No charges were pressed against him.

He was arrested on 29 August as a result of a report a week earlier in which he accused parliamentarian Pius Mwabilu of embezzling funds in order to start up a TV station. He was kept in police custody for two days and then transferred to the Kinshasa’s Penitentiary and Reeducation Centre.


01.09.2003

Arrest of a journalist and death threats against the secretary-general of a local media watchdog

On 29 August 2003, police officers arrested Guy Kasongo Kilembwe, editor-in-chief of the satirical newspaper "Pot-Pourri", following the publication of an article criticising a member of parliament’s reported embezzlement of funds. On 31 August, after being held in police custody for 48 hours, the journalist was transferred to Kinshasa’s Penitentiary and Reeducation Centre (Centre pénitentiaire et de rééducation de Kinshasa, former Makala central prison).

"Without commenting on the content of the offending article, we condemn all cases of preventive detention for defamation, which should fall within the competence of civil courts," Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Robert Ménard said. He asked that Kasongo be released, presumed innocent, and granted a fair trial.

On 22 August, "Pot-Pourri" published an article in which Kasongo said that Pius Mwabilu, a member of parliament, had embezzled a sum of money that had been intended for former parliamentarians. The newspaper alleged that the money was used instead to launch L’Avenir Group Radio-Television (Radiotélévision Groupe L’Avenir, RTGA). Mwabilu is also RTGA general manager and publisher of the daily "L’Avenir". The "Pot-Pourri" article suggested that each parliamentarian was a co-owner of the station.

Reporters Without Borders condemned Mwabilu’s threats against the editor-in-chief of "Pot-Pourri". He accused Kasongo of having "humiliated [him] in [his] newspaper." The organisation also condemned his death threats against Tshivis Tshivuadi, secretary-general of the organisation Journaliste en Danger (JED), on 31 August. Mwabilu also accused JED of being biased and supporting opposition newspapers.

Following his arrest, Kasongo was first taken to a police station, where he was interrogated for an hour. After his transfer to the Kinshasa/Gombe Public Prosecutor’s Office, he remained in police custody for two days. On 30 August, he faced off against the plaintiff, Mwabilu, before the examining magistrate in the case. The next day, he was taken to the former central prison.

Reporters Without Borders has also condemned the recent police brutality against Tsheke Bukasa and Désiré-Israél Kazadi, two journalists from "Le Phare" newspaper.

Bukasa was roughed up by police officers and thrown out of Kinshasa general hospital on 23 August. He had gone to the hospital seeking information on the death of political opposition figure José Mukenge.

Kazadi was beaten up by police officers on 27 August while covering a demonstration by political activists who were demanding that Mukenge’s body be handed over to them. The officers assaulted him despite the fact that he identified himself as a journalist and showed his press card. According to Kazadi, one of the officers also threatened him, telling him that someday he would pay the price for choosing to be a journalist.



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in the annual report
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