Kananga – A journalist held since last month as part of an investigation into a video of the 2017 killing of two UN experts in the Democratic Republic of Congo was released on Tuesday.
Military prosecutors granted Sosthene Kambidi provisional release following a public hearing in Kananga, capital of Kasai Central province.
Kananga is the nearest city to Bunkonde village, the scene of the murders on March 12, 2017.
The order to release Kambidi, seen by AFP, stipulated that he may not leave Kananga without express authorisation and only for essential travel.
Kambidi appeared before the military tribunal for the first time on September 30 when prosecutors grilled him on how he came into possession of the video of the killings.
He indicated that he had received the video from a lawyer, who in turn said he had obtained it from others.
Kambidi’s lawyer Dominique Kambala said his client was therefore at the end of the chain of possession, complaining that the journalist should not have been detained as he was only a witness in the case.
The video has become the focal point for an investigation into the kidnapping and murders of American Michael Sharp and Swedish-Chilean Zaida Catalan, who had been hired by the UN to investigate violence in the Kasai region.
Around 30 people have been accused of taking part in the murders, but a trial that began in June 2017 had stalled.
“I am relieved to be able to return to my family and soon my work colleagues,” Kambidi said, “but I’m also sad that others… remain in detention.”
Other people questioned over the video, including videographer Israel Ntumba, remain in custody, Kambala said.
Kambidi, who was first detained on September 20, has worked as a freelancer for AFP and Radio France Internationale (RFI) and at the Congolese online news site Actualite.cd in Kananga.
According to the official version of events, the two UN experts were killed by members of the Kamuina Nsapu rebel group, which was fighting government forces.
The conflict with Kamuina Nsapu left an estimated 3 400 people dead and tens of thousands displaced between September 2016 and mid-2017 in the Kasai region.
Picture: Getty Images