3 December 2012
Kinshasa/Brussels, 3 December 2012 – For Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF), the complaint of Floribert Chebeya’s siblings against John Numbi should lead to a full enquiry. While the trial has recently resumed, ASF refers to this complaint filed on 30 July and still open. Should the Military Prosecutor’s Office not file charges against the General, ASF would consider this as a denial of justice in the context of this trial.
Following the announcement by certain parties to withdrawn from the trial, ASF points out that it is still fully engaged before the Military High Court in Kinshasa. Since the beginning of this case, the Belgian NGO is supporting the organisation of the defence of Chebeya’s brothers and sisters.
In addition to the ongoing trial, the siblings supported by ASF have followed a second path in order to get to the truth: the Military Prosecutor’s Office is to conduct an investigation within the context of the complaint against John Numbi submitted four months ago. The charges are based on the existence of contradictory elements in the statements made by the General and other parties during the trial and on the recent statements by film director Thierry Michel and his “witness”, Major Milawbwe.
To date, the Military Prosecutor’s Office has yet to publish its final decision on what action should be taken regarding the charges. “Should this complaint not be investigated, the denial of justice would be flagrant”, says Aurora Capelier, ASF Head of Mission in DR Congo. In fact, an independent and effective investigation of this complaint constitutes the only way for the victim’s family to obtain the truth on a key element of the file: whether there was direct responsibility of the military hierarchy for the death of the activist.
Contrary to what other civil parties asked for via the media, “the High Court could not directly charge General Numbi within a trial on appeal”, corrects Jean-Charles Paras, ASF expert on civil law and politics. “It is for the Military Prosecutor’s Office to proceed with a full investigation and submit it subsequently to the judges for examination. This does not prejudice in any way the responsibility or innocence of any person concerned by the complaint”, he points out.
As the same time, the brothers and sisters of Chebeya are vigilant of the investigations ordered by the Military High Court in Kinshasa on 23 October, notably those concerning the truthfulness of the assertions made by Major Milawbwe.
The Chebeya trial is emblematic of the fight against impunity for crimes committed against human rights defenders, and the truth regarding the death of Mr. Chebeya is still expected.
“The Congolese justice system must demonstrate, to the Congolese public opinion as well as to the international community, its desire to mobilise all the material and legal resources available to establish as clearly as possible the circumstances surrounding Mr Chebeya’s death, as well as potential individual responsibilities”, concludes Aurora Capelier.
Picture © Fabienne Pompey – IRIN