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Music critic attacked by musician's bodyguard

(JED/IFEX) - Marc Tabu, a Congolese music critic based in Brussels, suffered injuries to the head on 10 July 2004, at approximately 5:00 a.m. (local time), following a violent attack by one Tony Osvaldo, also known as Tony Mokomboso. Osvaldo, who is of Angolan nationality, is a bodyguard for the Congolese musician Antoine Agbepa Mumba, better known as Koffi Olomide. Tabu hosts the weekly music review programme "Europa Live", recorded in Europe and rebroadcast in Kinshasa on the private broadcaster Raga TV.

According to Tabu, who spoke by phone to a JED correspondent on 23 July, the attack was ordered "on the spot" by Olomide while the journalist was filming a concert by the musician. Olomide's bodyguard intercepted Tabu and beat him violently about the head, seriously injuring him.

The journalist was evacuated by ambulance to Brussels' Saint-Pierre Hospital, where a gash to his head had to be closed with seven stitches. Other tests have been ordered to determine whether he suffered any internal trauma.

Tabu, like many other Brussels-based Congolese music critics, had gone to cover Olomide's show at the Noble concert hall in Brussels. The concert, which was scheduled to start at 11:00 p.m., only got under way four hours later, as the audience had begun leaving the hall.

"I had just begun filming people leaving the hall when Koffi Olomide whispered something to his bodyguard, who then came over to me and asked me to stop filming," said Tabu. "I told him that I was doing my job and that I was not about to take orders from him about how to do so." The guard then grabbed Tabu's camera, smashed it against the wall, and began to violently strike him.

JED notes that the attack on Tabu comes in the wake of other similar attacks on music critics by bodyguards or over zealous fans of musicians who have received less than favourable reviews, often at the request of the artists themselves. Critics Zacharie Bababaswe of Antenne A, Kabengele, (also known as "Jo K") of Raga TV, and Dieudonné Yangumba, Mbuyi Mbwebwe and Bolowa Bonzakwa of public broadcaster RTNC, have all suffered attacks ordered by Congolese musicians. JED further notes that Olomide himself has ordered at least one other attack, on cameraman Patcheli Mudiayia of the private television station Canal Kin (CK TV), for which he later publicly apologised.

JED has called on the Congolese authorities to launch a judicial enquiry into the case, and to issue a serious warning to Congolese musicians that such attacks will not be tolerated. The organisation has also asked the Belgian ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo to release any information resulting from the Belgian police's investigation into the charges brought by Tabu.

JED has also called on the Congolese media to declare a three-month ban on Olomide and his group Quartier Latin, as a gesture of solidarity toward critics facing similar pressure.

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