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Journalist detained by army colonel

UPDATE: Journalist released after two weeks in detention (JED, 6 July 2012)

(JED/IFEX) - 4 July 2012 - Journaliste en Danger (JED) is outraged by the prolonged and illegal detention of Bruno Kabwe, interim director of Radio Parec, a community radio station based in Kalemie, in Katanga province, on the orders of a colonel of the armed forces (FARDC)

According to information obtained by JED, Bruno Kabwe was arrested on 22 June 2012 and was immediately taken into custody at the headquarters of the 61st Brigade. He remains in detention and is prevented from having visitors. Kabwe is accused of having made “rude” comments about Jean-Marie Izumbu, the colonel in question and the commander of the 61st Brigade of the FARDC.

Radio Parec had published news of the arrest of a local pastor, accused of conspiring with the “Maï Maï Yakutumba” armed militia. Radio Parec is accused of diffaming colonel Izumbu by stating that he confiscated the belongings of the pastor at the time of his arrest.

Contacted by JED, a journalist from Radio Parec denied the allegation and stated that “we only announced the arrest of the pastor without giving any further details.”

The journalist who present the report in question, Guillaume Amisi, is in hiding for the last few days out of fear of being arrested. He was summoned on 27 June by the intellingence branch of the 61st Brigade.

JED considers this arrest a flagrant violation of free expression, as well as a blatant abuse of power by a high-ranking officer of the armed forces, who has neither the KNOWLEDGE to determine a press violation, nor theauthority to prosecute it.

As a result, JED calls on the general command of the FARDC to order the release of the journalist, who has been arbitrarily detained for two weeks, and to ensure that the colonel is sanctioned for his actions.

Please note this is an abridged translation.

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