Kinshasa will let Dutch experts autopsy rights activist

8th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

The Democratic Republic of Congo's interior ministry has agreed that Dutch forensics experts can take part in the autopsy of murdered rights activist Floribert Chebeya, a ministry source said Tuesday.

In a letter dated Monday addressed to the ambassador of the Netherlands, of which AFP has obtained a copy, Interior Minister Adolphe Lumanu gave "(his) accord" to a request from the Netherlands to send four specialists to Kinshasa.

Chebeya, 47, the president of the rights association La Voix des Sans-Voix (VSV - Voice of the Voiceless) was found dead on the morning of June 2, tied up on the back seat of his car.

He had disappeared the previous night with his driver, who has still not been found, after spending the early evening at the police headquarters, where he was due to meet the then police chief, John Numbi. But that meeting never took place.

Numbi was suspended on Saturday and several police officers were arrested in an enquiry into Chebeya's murder, which has caused an outcry among human rights organisations in the DR Congo and abroad.

The Kinshasa authorities are under considerable pressure from the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and France to carry out an independent, open and impartial enquiry into Chebeya's death.

According to a source at the interior ministry, the United States has asked permission to send agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to form part of the enquiry team. This request is to be examined by Kinshasa authorities, the source said.

A source close to the presidency said Sunday that Colonel Daniel Mukalay, head of the police special service, had confessed to a role in the murder and had pointed the finger at national police chief Numbi.

Earlier Sunday, Interior Minister Lumanu announced on national television that Numbi had been suspended and said several police officers had been arrested in the probe into Chebeya's death.

Reading out a statement, Lumanu said President Joseph Kabila was "determined that all light be shed" on the murder.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon this week hailed Chebeya as a champion of human rights in the war-ravaged central African country.

Trained in business and economics, Chebeya started campaigning in the early 1980s, in his home region of Bukavu in the DR Congo'a troubled east, under the regime of former strongman Mobutu Sese Seko.

He founded VSV in 1983 to combat social injustice and the repression of political opponents -- and was himself arrested and threatened on a regular basis according to friends, most recently in March 2009.

More than 50 human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have demanded an independent enquiry into the killing in an open letter to Kabila.

© 2010 AFP

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