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Cablegate: Nlandu's Court Battle May Not yet Be Over

VZCZCXRO2734
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #0816 1951135
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 141135Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6528
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

UNCLAS KINSHASA 000816

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KDEM KJUS CG
SUBJECT: NLANDU'S COURT BATTLE MAY NOT YET BE OVER

REF: KINSHASA 502 AND PREVIOUS

1. (U) Congolese lawyer and opposition figure Marie-Therese
Nlandu, who was acquitted April 30 on charges of insurrection
and weapons possession (reftel), could find herself back in
court at the urging of prosecutor Homere Nkulu Katenda. The
Kinshasa military appeals court filed an appeal June 20
against the Kinshasa military tribunal that found Nlandu and
nine co-defendants not guilty. According to Kinshasa press
reports of July 9, Colonel Madialuwa, the appeals court
chief, said he filed the appeal himself because the original
court's ruling was a "misjudgment."

2. (U) The issue for Madialuwa was a statement made by
Kinshasa military tribunal chief justice Major Martin Mbokolo
Ewawa. Madialuwa claimed Mbokolo had proposed a more
"humanitarian" military justice system when he called in his
judgment for a law defining the competence of military
tribunals to judge civilians. Madialuwa also criticized
Mbokolo's statement to Nlandu that he could not say she was
not in the wrong, just that the case against her did not
succeed in proving that she was. Madialuwa asked, "How can
you acquit a person when you can't say she isn't guilty?"

3. (U) Mbokolo had offered both sides five days to appeal
the April 30 verdict. Madialuwa, however, filed the
government's appeal more than fifty days later. He argued
that the military justice code does not specifically address
appeals, so the common law code allowing three months for
appeal must apply.

4. (U) According to news reports, Nlandu, who is now in
Europe, will not respond to the appeal when official
notification is issued. In an interview from abroad, she
essentially accused President Kabila of bad faith. "This
appeal of June 20, 2007 is outside the legal limit of five
days required by the code of military justice. Can the Congo
still portray itself as a state of law? I told President
Kabila thank you, because he made clear he was not against my
acquittal. That meant: no appeal, no new investigations, no
second trial. Supreme Magistrate: What good is his word?
Can he be trusted? As many times before, his promises only
raise questions."

5. (SBU) Joseph Mukendi, lead attorney for Nlandu and the
other defendants, told us July 12 that he considers the
appeal both illegal and politically motivated, and
underscored that the military justice code stipulates that
appeals must be filed in five days. Mukendi said there has
been no move to rearrest any of the defendants, nor an
official notification of the appeal. He said he will argue
against reopening the case when the matter comes before the
military appeals court in two or three weeks. Nlandu will
not return, he said, as her health would be endangered should
she be rearrested.

6. (SBU) Comment: Madialuwa's action represents a belated
action by government hard-liners, a rear guard action by a
disgruntled judge, or both. End comment.
MEECE

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