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Cablegate: Journalist Killed in Eastern Drc

VZCZCXRO1072
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #0976 2271445
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 151445Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6709
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 000976

SIPDIS

PARIS FOR USMISSION UNESCO

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O.12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM KPAO CG UNESCO
SUBJECT: JOURNALIST KILLED IN EASTERN DRC

REF: 06 Kinshasa 1105

Sensitive but Unclassified. Not for Internet Distribution.

1. (SBU) Summary: On August 9, 2007, a national press agency
journalist was killed by unidentified gunmen in Goma, eastern Congo.
The motive behind the assassination is not known. In the case of a
journalist murdered in 2006, prosecutors have asked for capital
punishment for three of four defendants. End Summary.

2. (U) Patrick Kikuku, a reporter and photographer working for the
government-owned Agence de Presse Congolese (ACP) and the
Kinshasa-based weekly Hebdo de l'Est, was killed near his home by a
gunshot to the head at point-blank range. According to testimony
collected by the Congolese human rights group Journaliste En Danger,
the killers stole Kikuku's camera but left his money and his cell
phone untouched. The motive for his murder is still not known.

3. (U) On August 9, prosecutors in the murder trial of independent
journalist Bapuwa Mwamba (reftel) requested capital punishment for
Vungu Mbembo, Nkunku Makuala, and Mangwene Lowayi. The men have been
charged with criminal conspiracy, armed robbery, extortion, and
murder. Suami Sumbu, a fourth suspect, faces a twenty-year sentence
for illegal weapon possession. The lawyers for the accused requested
a verdict of not guilty, citing the fact that the prosecution was
unable to produce any witnesses to the killing, casting doubt about
the identity of murderers. Bapuwa was killed in his home on July 8,
2006. A verdict is expected on August 17.

4. (SBU) Comment: While there appears to be no connection between
the murder of Kikuku and his work as a journalist, this murder does
demonstrate that members of the press remain vulnerable to armed
violence, especially in Congo's volatile east. Kikuku is the fourth
journalist killed in the DRC in the past two years. End comment.

BROCK

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