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Cablegate: Murder Trial of Journalist Finds Momentum

VZCZCXRO3246
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #0263 0611155
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 021155Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5721
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS KINSHASA 000263

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O.12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM KPAO CG
SUBJECT: Murder Trial of Journalist Finds Momentum

REF: A) 06 Kinshasa 1105, B) 06 Kinshasa 441,

C) 06 Kinshasa 270

Sensitive but Unclassified. Not for Internet Distribution.

1. (SBU) Summary: The trial for the November 2005 murder of
journalist Franck Ngyke Kangundu is seemingly back on track after
many months of procedural delay. The presiding military court has
rearrested an early suspect and asked that the investigation be
expanded to include some PPRD political figures. Whether it turns
out Ngyke Kangundu was the victim in a botched robbery, or, worse,
targeted as a journalist or as a political adviser, his is
fundamentally a sad cautionary tale about the disregard of ethics by
Congolese journalists who try to operate both in journalism and in
politics. End Summary.

2. (U) On February 14, the military court trying the case ordered
the re-arrest of Paulin Kusungila, who had been held for about a
month following the November 3, 2005 murder of "Reference-Plus"
journalist/PPRD political adviser Franck Ngyke Kangundu and his wife
Helene Paka. One of the three accused assassins is said to have
called his uncle, Kusungila, with Ngyke's cell phone thirty minutes
after the murder. Kusungila's lawyer requested that his client be
granted bail, given his willingness to cooperate. The three
suspects are members of the DRC armed forces, which gives the
military court jurisdiction in this case. Kusungila, now the fourth
suspect, is a civilian.

3. (SBU) The military court also requested that the public
prosecutor extend his investigation to include persons cited in a
report produced by media watchdog group Journaliste En Danger (JED)
a year ago (ref C). On February 21, a scheduled hearing on the
prosecution's on-again-off-again investigation was postponed until
March 7. (Note: The JED report elaborates on a PPRD power struggle
in Bandundu province, making mention of former Interior Minister
Theophile Mbemba, former Kinshasa governor Jean Kimbunda Mudikela,
and PPRD Deputy Secretary General and current Minister of Labor
Marie-Ange Lukiana Mufwancol, per ref C. JED president Mbaya
Tshimanga confirmed to us February 27 that these individuals could

SIPDIS
indeed expect a visit by the prosecutor. End note.)

4. (SBU) Comment: Notwithstanding unfulfilled promises of
independent investigations into this crime (ref B), the long-stalled
military trial seems to be stirring great interest, if only because
the Franck Ngyke Kangundu case has received more attention than
most. It would be surprising, however, to see the figures mentioned
in the JED report overly discomfited by the public prosecutor.
Seven journalists have been killed in the Congo in the past 11
years, and there have been no convictions for any of these crimes,
according to JED. Recent Third Republic pronouncements against
impunity could inspire the court to see the Franck Ngyke Kangundu
case through. Given Ngyke Kangundu's moonlighting as a PPRD
political consultant, however, and given the propensity of Congolese
journalists to blur the lines between their journalistic and
political activities, this particular case has a dimension that
extends beyond questions of press freedom. End Comment.

MEECE

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