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Plaintiff journalist suddenly arrested during trial, taken to prison

(JED/IFEX) - Claude Kasongo, a journalist with Radio Télévision Communautaire Maniema Liberté (RTCMALI), a community radio station based in Kindu, capital of Maniema province in eastern DR Congo, was arrested and taken to Kindu Central Prison on 20 July 2009 at around 11:00 a.m. (local time). The arrest occurred as Kasongo was appearing at a trial at a military court as a plaintiff against a judicial police officer who had threatened him with death and rape in June 2009.

During the trial, the judicial police officer in question acknowledged the facts, but cited a certain Passy Tafunga as being the instigator. As the trial was taking place, other police officers burst into the hearing room and took the journalist away, first to the Kindu High Court (Tribunal de Grande Instance de Kindu) and later to the city's central prison. According to these police officers, the journalist was wanted at the High Court, where he was to appear for alleged defamation of the same Passy Tafunga.

On 30 May 2009, the journalist broadcast a news item stating that during a hearing at the Kindu prosecutor's office, Tafunga allegedly undressed to offer proof of her gender in a scarcely-believable case in which she was accused of having impregnated another girl in her neighbourhood. Unhappy that these details were revealed in the media, Tafunga, in turn, filed a complaint against the journalist for defamation.

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