Saturday 24 February 2018

UN urges fair trial for anti-Kabila army rebel

UN urges fair trial for anti-Kabila army rebel
(AFP (eng) 02/07/18)
Monusco spokeswoman Florence Marchal

The UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Monusco) on Wednesday urged a fair trial for an army officer who deserted and is accused of rebellion.

"We are calling for the holding of a fair trial for Mr (John) Tshibangu," Monusco spokeswoman Florence Marchal told a press conference in Kinshasa.

She added UN human rights officials were following Tshibangu's case closely, but that in the absence of access to all the details on his extradition last Monday from Tanzania they could not determine if all procedures had been followed correctly.

RDC Defence Minister Crispin Atama Thabe said last Friday that former army colonel Tshibangu faced rebellion charges and accusations he took up arms against his country.

Justice Minister Alexis Thabwe Mwamba said Wednesday the 48-year-old had been extradited and would face "a trial in good and due form... in a few weeks or months".

Tshibangu deserted to rebel against President Joseph Kabila in 2012. In a video posted on social media on January 18 he said he would "remove" the president within 45 days unless he apologised for a crackdown that left at least nine dead following a December 31 street protest, according to UN figures.

Kabila, in power since the assassination of his father Laurent in 2001, is at the helm of a regime widely criticised for repression and corruption in a mineral-rich but strife-plagued nation.

He was due to leave office in December 2016 in line with the constitution, but the next elections have been postponed to December, sparking unrest.

Florent Geel, Africa director of the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), told AFP ahead of Tshibangu's extradition that "we do not endorse this man's armed struggle, but there's a risk of physical harm if he is extradited to DR Congo".

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