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DRC court begins trial over death of rights activist Chebeya

The trial of eight men accused of killing Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) [BBC backgrounder] human rights activist Floribert Chebeya began in the capital city of Kinshasa on Friday. The eight accused men are all DRC policemen, but only five are currently before the court [Reuters report], as three are still at-large. The eight men face charges of abduction, assassination, terrorism and conspiracy. Cherbeya, a prominent rights activist and member of the activist group Voice of the Voiceless, was found dead in his own car [BBC report] in June 2. Soon after Cherbeya's death, national police chief John Numbi was suspended [JURIST report], and the eight accused men were arrested. Numbi does not face charges in Cherbeya's death, but members of Cherbeya's activist group are petitioning the DRC government to move the case to a military court [BBC report] with the rank to try him for Cherbeya's death.

The alleged assassination of a prominent rights activist by law enforcement is merely the latest in the ongoing human rights issues facing the DRC. In early October, Human Rights Watch called for the DRC government [JURIST report] to arrest general Bosco Ntaganda pursuant to an outstanding warrant for war crimes issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website]. Earlier that same week French authorities arrested a leader [JURIST report] of the Democratic Force for the Liberation of Rwanda for crimes committed by that group in the DRC. Earlier in October, UN peacekeeping forces and the DRC government arrested Mai Mai Cheka [JURIST report] for allegedly leading a rebel group responsible for mass rapes in the country.

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