Police chief absent from murdered activist's court hearingBy JUAKALI KAMBALE in Kinshasa | Wednesday, June 20 2012 at 18:18
The hearing of a murder appeal by five Congolese police officers convicted of the killing of human rights activist Floribert Chebeya opened Tuesday in a military court in Kinshasa.
Chebeya’s family and the human rights fraternity expected to see on the stand the man they believed engineered the killing, Inspector-General of Police John Numbi, but he did not show up.
The police chief is alleged to have set up an appointment with Chebeya a day before he was found dead.
During the initial trial, four defendants were sentenced to death while the fifth was given a life sentence.
Chebeya, who founded a group called la Voix des Sans Voix (the voice of the voiceless), disappeared together with his driver Fidele Bazana on June 2, 2010 when they went to present themselves at Insp. Numbi’s Kinshasa office.
Whereas Chebeya’s body was later found in his car, that of Mr Bazana has never been found to date.
Chebeya’s family remained perplexed that the police chief was not even called as witness in the case.
At the Tuesday hearing, the trial room in the military court was too small to contain the big crowd of Chebeya’s supporters who continued to demand the appearance of Insp Numbi.
The tribunal at the first trial had ruled that it was not competent to judge an officer of Numbi’s level. That is why the appeal was made at a higher military court.
However, state lawyers insisted that “John Numbi is not involved in the case as was proved at the previous hearing,” adding that there was no need to make him appear.
The next hearing is scheduled for July 17, 2012.
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