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Prosecutor calls for death sentence against alleged assassins of journalist Franck Ngyke

(JED/IFEX) - During the 4 April 2007 public hearing of the Kinshasa/Matete Military Court, the prosecution requested death sentences for the alleged assassins of journalist Franck Ngyke and his wife Hélène Mpaka, assassinated in their home on the night of 2-3 November 2005.

For the prosecution, the call for the death penalty, which excluded many mitigating circumstances, is justified because the journalist's assassination had been planned days earlier by the accused, for whom this heinous crime was not their first.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs condemned the superficiality with which this case was investigated both by the police and by the military prosecutor's office, as well as the court's refusal to reply to their numerous requests for certain people to appear in a public hearing. "The trial is ending while the motives for the crime and many other things are still unknown", they declared.

The plaintiffs have also denounced the Congolese government's sabotage of the trial, even though it was a party to it, by not having done enough so that the truth could be known.

Defence lawyers called for the accused to be released based on the benefit of the doubt. The defence argued that the prosecution has never been able, throughout the trial, to prove that the accused are guilty. In addition, the trial revealed another band of alleged assassins, arrested by the police and then released, but whose confession resembled the orphaned children's version of the events. "In such a case, doubt should benefit the accused," they said.

The main suspect, Joel Muganda, asked the court that he be prosecuted only for the telephone call he made from the journalist's phone, and that the other accused be released because they were innocent.

Five people have been prosecuted in this case for associating with criminals, murder, attempted murder, violation of instructions, extortion, theft of weapons, and receiving and concealing of objects. They include Second Lieutenant Joel Muganda, the alleged band leader, Second Lieutenant Didier Awantimbine, Warrant Officer Papy Munongo, Paulin Kusungila and Serge Kabungu Obez.

The Military Court is now deliberating on the case and will render a verdict on 13 April 2007.

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