Sign up for weekly updates

Journalist released after 10 months in detention

(JED/IFEX) - JED has voiced relief after the release on 7 September 2007 of Bonsange Mbaka, publisher of the Kinshasa-based newspaper "Mambenga". The Kinshasa/Gombe Military Court announced the journalist's acquittal the same day.

On 10 September, Mbaka visited JED's offices and thanked the organisation for all its work on his behalf. JED denounced the journalist's long and abusive detention while noting that it demonstrates the dysfunctional nature of the Congolese justice system and constitutes a serious human rights violation. JED encouraged the journalist to take action against the Congolese state for his arbitrary arrest and the torture he suffered during his detention.

Mbaka had been accused of taking advantage of riots at the Supreme Court and was charged with "theft of military property" for retrieving a mobile phone belonging to the police. In its verdict, the military court dismissed all charges on the grounds that there was no proof the journalist had intended to steal or otherwise acquire the phone. The court has adhered to the journalist's version according to which he had, in good faith, picked up the phone and was about to hand it over to the police at the time of his arrest.

Mbaka was arrested on 21 November 2006 following clashes at the Supreme Court between police and supporters of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (Mouvement de Libération du Congo, MLC, the party of former presidential candidate Jean-Pierre Bemba). He was held secretly for several days in a cell at the Special Services Unit of Kinshasa police headquarters (Kin-Mazière). He was then transferred to the CPRK on 27 December. He was finally deferred to the military court where he was sentenced to a one-year prison term while his lawyers deplored the total absence of any evidence supporting the accusations laid against him.

Latest Tweet:

SIGN NOW: Writers, journalists, artists, and supporters of @PENamerican write to protest the arrest and prosecutio…

Get more stories like this

Sign up for our newsletters and get the most important free expression news delivered to your inbox.