KINSHASA – Rights groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo warned yesterday they would follow up on the appeal trial of activist Floribert Chebeya’s killers, saying it could take the case to international courts.
Chebeya, 47, was found dead in his car in 2010 on the outskirts of Kinshasa, a day after he visited police headquarters. His wrists bore handcuff marks.
The national network of DR Congo human rights NGOs (Renadhoc) said it could take the case to international courts if need be.
“All conditions for a fair and just trial” are not fulfilled and this trial “now looks like a travesty whose outcome is known from the outset”, Fernandez Murhola, Renadhoc’s executive secretary general, told a news conference.
Murhola stressed that it was key for the outcome of the trial to follow up the case as a plaintiff until all legal means have been exhausted in DR Congo.
After that international courts may become involved in due time, he added.
The military court announced last month that former DR Congo police chief John Numbi, who the rights group founded by Chebeya considers the prime suspect, would not be required to appear at the trial.
Other NGOs, including Chebeya’s Voice of the Voiceless rights organisation, have since withdrawn from the trial, whose next hearing is scheduled for November 27.
Of the eight police officers on trial, four were sentenced to death last year, three in their absence. One was sentenced to life in prison and the other three were acquitted.
Numbi, who has been suspended from duty, had testified during the murder trial that he never met Chebeya.
“If the procedure is not exhausted on the national level, our action will not be admissible on an international level,” said Murhola.