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Journalist in police custody in Kinshasa

(JED/IFEX) - Phambu Lutete, the publisher of the Kinshasa-based bi-weekly newspaper "La Tolérance", has been in the custody of Kinshasa's Provincial Police Inspection (IPK) unit since his arrest on 6 May 2007. On 8 May, Lutete was transferred to the Kinshasa/Matete High Court Prosecutor's Office.

The journalist was charged with "threatening and attempted swindling" of Pauline Ipeluka, a senior official with Kinshasa's property tax office.

A JED staff member met with Phambu in his Prosecutor's Office cell. He told the organisation's representative that he had been preparing an article in which he criticised Ipeluka's recent appointment to a high-level post, given the fact she is up on charges of "breach of trust" brought by the Kinshasa/Kalamu High Court's prosecutor.

The journalist also said Ipeluka had served jail time and was only granted a provisional release a few days prior to her nomination.

Phambu went to a meeting fixed by Ipeluka to inquire about the state of her case when he was arrested at 7:00 p.m. (local time) by police officers who had obviously been informed by the woman.

JED is surprised by this arrest, which is not based on any specific grievance. The organisation requests that the judge in charge of the case release the journalist and allow him to appear before the court.

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