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Journalist detained for 48 hours over critical article

(JED/IFEX) - Pascal Mulunda, journalist and editor of "Le Monitor", a Kinshasa-based private weekly, was detained on 26 July 2010 at the prosecutor's office of the Kinshasa/Gombe district court.

According to information obtained by JED, Mulunda was arrested while delivering recent copies of his newspaper to vendors. Two plainclothes men and two others armed and in police uniforms grabbed the journalist and pretended to show a police warrant. They drove Mulunda to the Kinshasa/Gombe district court. He was questioned by a judge named Beka about a 23 June article published in issue 180 of "Le Monitor".

In the article, entitled "Baudouin Iheta fait la chasse à l'homme au Saesscam" ("Baudouin Iheta on the hunt at SAESSCAM"), the journalist accuses Iheta, coordinator of Public Service Support of Small Scale Mining (SAESSCAM), of mismanagement.

The author, whose name appears as "Acha Mza" in the article, wrote that "Idet (Editor's note: a member of the presidential party, PPRD) blocked the salaries and benefits of certain officers of SAESSCAM and members of the Unified Lumumbist Party (the Prime Minister's party, PALU) that were awarded to them by the Minister of Mining Martin Kabwelulu.

Mulunda's lawyer, Joël Awenze, said that after the first hearing, the journalist was due back in court on 27 July. Without going into the merits of the case, JED believes that the deprivation of liberty to a journalist at this stage of the investigation is not justified, and supports the request of his provisional release filed by his lawyer.

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