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ICC asked to investigate militia leader's role in AFP assistant's disappearance in 2003

(RSF/JED/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders and its partner organisation Journaliste en Danger (JED) have written to the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor asking him to carry out more thorough enquiries into the June 2003 disappearance of Agence France-Presse assistant Acquitté Kisembo. Militia chief Thomas Lubanga, who was arrested on war crimes charges and transferred to the ICC on 17 March 2006, is suspected of ordering his murder.

Mr. Luis Moreno-Ocampo
Chief Prosecutor
International Criminal Court
PO Box 19519
2500 CM The Hague, Netherlands

Paris and Kinshasa, 20 March 2006

Dear Mr. Moreno-Ocampo,

After learning of the arrest and transfer to the International Criminal Court of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, the alleged founder and leader of a militia known as the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), Reporters Without Borders and Journaliste en Danger (JED) would like to draw your attention to the case of Agence France-Presse assistant Acquitté Kisembo, 28, who has been missing since 26 June 2003.

Together with other journalists working for the international press, Kisembo covered the evacuation of Lubanga's militia from Bunia, in the northeastern region of Ituri, by the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) on 25 June 2003. During the evacuation, some of the militia members reportedly called Kisembo a "collaborator" (because he worked for a foreign news agency) and threatened him. Some local sources said he was kidnapped and murdered by Lubanga's militia the next day while he was interviewing civilians. Lubanga denied any role in Kisembo's disappearance and produced an "eye witness" who claimed that he was kidnapped by a rival militia.

Impunity is one of the blights debilitating Africa and Lubanga's arrest is an important step in the struggle to render justice to the victims of its wars. There are strong reasons for suspecting he had a role in Kisembo's disappearance and Reporters Without Borders and JED would therefore like to ask you to carry out more thorough enquiries into this case. Kisembo's family and employer have been in the dark for nearly three years and deserve to benefit from this opportunity to finally learn the truth.

We trust you will give this request your careful consideration.

Sincerely,

Robert Ménard
Secretary-General
Reporters Without Borders

Donat M'Baya Tshimanga
President
Journaliste en danger
RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Send appeals to the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC:

-asking him to carry out more thorough enquiries into the Kisembo case

APPEALS TO:

Mr. Luis Moreno-Ocampo
Chief Prosecutor
International Criminal Court
PO Box 19519
2500 CM The Hague, Netherlands

Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

Journaliste en danger
Reporters Without Borders

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