Congo government says man who threw rocks at president’s motorcade committed suicide in jail

Monday, October 4, 2010

Congo: Man who threw rocks commits suicide in jail

KINSHASA, Congo — A man arrested after throwing rocks at President Joseph Kabila’s motorcade committed suicide in his jail cell, a government press release said Monday, while human rights groups raised questions about his death.

Armand Tungulu, a Congolese citizen living in Belgium, had been visiting Congo since Sept. 29. He was taken into custody by Kabila’s bodyguards after he threw rocks at the presidential motorcade last Wednesday. Witnesses said the guards beat Tungulu before arresting him.

A statement from the Congolese attorney general’s office said Tungulu killed himself Friday night with a piece of cloth he had been using as a pillow.

Human rights groups, though, said it was the latest incident in a pattern of harsh retribution for critics of Kabila’s regime.

In June, Floribert Chebeya Bahizire, head of Voix des Sans Voix, or Voice of the Voiceless, was found strangled in his car on the outskirts of Kinshasa. Bahizire had worked to document human rights abuses in Congo and had received multiple death threats.

Another human rights activist, Nicole Bondo Muaka, was taken into custody last week and accused of filming Tungulu’s arrest, said Robert Ilunga Numbi, president of a Congolese human rights organization.

Numbi and other activists called for Muaka’s release on Monday.

“We don’t know what kind of conditions she’s being kept in,” Numbi said. “With the justice system here, it’s impossible to know.”

will not be displayed