Kinshasa – Reporters Without Borders (RSF) voiced concern on Friday for Congolese journalist Sosthene Kambidi, detained and charged as part of a probe into the 2017 killing of two UN experts.
RSF and its Congolese partner Journalist in Danger (JED) “express their deep concern over the @RFI @afpfr and @actualitecd journalist who has been detained for four days,” the press freedom watchdog tweeted.
It said Kambidi was “accused of terrorism and criminal association for having been in possession of a video of the murder of the experts, which he never broadcast and which he had passed on to the authorities.”
“He also said he was willing to co-operate” with investigators, it said.
RSF added: “The prolonged detention of this journalist is all the more worrying given that it is taking place under the eyes of the UN, which is taking part in the hearings as part of a mechanism set up to assist Congolese military justice.”
Kambidi, who has worked as a freelancer for AFP and Radio France Internationale (RFI) and at the Congolese online news site Actualite.cd in Kananga, capital of Kasai Central province, was arrested in his hotel in Kinshasa on Monday evening.
The journalist said he had been questioned by a Congolese military prosecutor and, via video link, “people from the UN mechanism set to up to assist Congolese military justice”.
Around 30 people have been accused of taking part in the UN experts’ murder, but a trial that began in June 2017 has stalled and the UN has appointed a judicial expert to assist.
Asked about the case in New York, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said “the mechanism is monitoring the investigation, and offering advice and counsel to the investigating magistrate.”
“It does not lead the investigation, nor does it interrogate witnesses or suspects directly,” he added.
American Michael Sharp and Swedish-Chilean Zaida Catalan had been hired by the United Nations to investigate violence in the Kasai region of central DRC. They were kidnapped and murdered in March 2017.
At the time, the authorities said the pair were killed by members of the Kamuina Nsapu rebel group, which was fighting government forces.
A video purporting to show Sharp and Catalan being murdered has been broadcast on state television.
Prosecutors are investigating how Kambidi came into possession of the video and who gave it to him.
Picture: Getty Images