PARIS, Oct 17 – Congolese President Joseph Kabila personally ordered the assassination of rights activist Floribert Chebeya in 2010, a fugitive police officer who says he witnessed the murder told French radio Wednesday.
A government spokesman in Kinshasa swiftly denied the accusation, which he said was aimed at undermining the regime’s credibility.
Paul Mwilambwe, who was in charge of security for the Kinshasa police station where Chebeya was killed in June 2010, said he saw the activist’s assassination on a surveillance camera.
Speaking from an undisclosed location in Africa, the policeman told Radio France Internationale that he had brought up the murder with a supervisor.
“I received the order from the president of the republic via General John Numbi,” Mwilambwe said, quoting the answer his boss gave him.
Mwilambwe went on the run soon after Chebeya’s death. He was among four officers who, along with a police colonel, were convicted in the killing. Mwilambwe was sentenced to death in absentia.
Mwilambwe told RFI he saw Chebeya on the surveillance camera being suffocated by police officers with a plastic bag and tape.
Numbi was a major power broker in the Democratic Republic of Congo and had been involved in several rounds of negotiations with Rwanda. He was only suspended following the murder.
Chebeya was a respected human rights activist who was found dead in his car on June 2, 2010.
The founder of the Voice of the Voiceless rights group is thought to have gone with his driver to a police HQ in Kinshasa for a meeting with Numbi, who has denied ever summoning Chebeya.
The driver was never found.
Mwilambe said the presidential instructions on the fateful day also specified that “whoever might accompany Chebeya, be it his son, his colleague or his wife, should be given the same treatment as Chebeya.”
Government spokesman Lambert Mende stressed there was nothing in the second-hand information on which Mwilambwe based his claims that could implicate Kabila.
“We contest and condemn this way of using a not very credible testimony to destroy the credibility and honour of a head of state and of a country’s institutions,” he told AFP.