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Journalist killed in Bukavu

(JED/IFEX) - The following is an abridged version of a Journaliste en danger press release:

Assassination of a journalist in Bukavu: JED demands the constitution of a Joint Committee of investigation to shed the light on the case

(Kinshasa, 14 June 2007) - JED is shocked by the assassination on 13 June 2007 of Serge Maheshe Kasole, a journalist with the Okapi radio station in Bukavu, eastern DR Congo.

According to witnesses, two men shot Maheshe point-blank in the chest and legs, when, with two friends, he was getting into the minivan he usually drives, which bears the United Nations logo.

The killers ordered the journalist and his friends to sit on the ground. One of the two friends asked the killers if they wanted money, and the killer shot Maheshe in both legs. His two friends then fled, and during their escape, heard three other gunshots. Other witnesses said Maheshe was shot in the chest area. The killers then fled.

Other people came to the scene after hearing the gunshots and noticed the journalist was fatally wounded. They immediately took him to a Bukavu hospital, where the doctors confirmed his death.

Based on the modus operandi of this crime, JED is led to believe that the killers not only knew the victim but they were on a mission to kill him. Moreover, several local testimonies refer to e-mails addressed to JED, on 7 and 9 May 2007, Maheshe described the "insults" and "death threats" directed at him on 6 May 2007, during an argument he had with soldiers near his home. In the same e-mail, the journalist informed JED that he had appealed to several civil and military authorities, at the provincial and national level, and they had promised "to follow up" on the situation.

Despite the assurances and apologies presented to him by the soldiers' superiors the journalist had stated, in the same e-mail, that he "had no illusions, remained cautious, and continued to fear the behaviour of these soldiers towards (him) and (his) family, who live in the area".

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