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Cablegate: Verdict Delivered in Journalist Assassination Trial

VZCZCXRO2034
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #1024 2401309
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 281309Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6761
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RUEHFR/UNMISSION UNESCO PARIS 0004

UNCLAS KINSHASA 001024

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O.12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM KPAO CG UNESCO
SUBJECT: VERDICT DELIVERED IN JOURNALIST ASSASSINATION TRIAL

REF: A) 07 Kinshasa 451; B) 07 Kinshasa ---

Sensitive but Unclassified. Not for Internet Distribution.

1. (SBU) Summary: Fourteen months after the death of independent
journalist Bapuwa Mwamba, a military court returned a guilty verdict
against the accused murderers. This is the second conviction in the
death of a journalist in the past five months. End Summary.

2. (U) On August 24 a military tribunal in Kinshasa sentenced Vungu
Mbembo, Nkunku Makuala and Mangwene Lowayi to death on charges of
criminal conspiracy, possession of illegal weapons and ammunition,
armed robbery, extortion and second-degree murder. Mwamba was killed
in his home on July 8, 2006. Suami Sumbu, a fourth suspect, received
a twenty-year sentence for possession of an illegal weapon. The
court established that Sumbu had supplied one of the guns used to
kill Mwamba to Mbembo, who masterminded the attack.

3. (U) The military tribunal sentenced those convicted and the
Congolese government to pay damages ranging from $50,000 to $900,000
to Mwamba's family. The Congolese government was judged in absentia
for failing to prevent traffic in illegal weapons and failing to
fulfill its obligation to protect citizens.

4. (SBU) Comment: This is the second conviction in the death of a
journalist this year. The conviction of Mwamba's killers follows the
April 13 conviction of the killers of Franck Ngyke Kangundu and his
wife Helene Paka. While these high profile cases show motivation to
deter further crime directed toward the press, the commitment of
judicial authorities to prosecuting these crimes is tenuous and
partial. Achieving such commitment would require judicial reform and
government support for more aggressive prosecution of crimes
directed toward the press. End comment.

BROCK

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