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Congo court sentences 4 to death for rights activist murder

A military court in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) [BBC backgrounder] on Thursday sentenced four policemen to death for killing prominent human rights activist Floribert Chebeya last year. Cherbeya, a member of the activist group Voice of the Voiceless, was found dead in his own car [BBC report] in June 2010. Eight men, all DRC policemen, were accused of being involved in the murder and were subsequently arrested. The trial for five of the men began in November [JURIST report], while three remained at large. The court sentenced [BBC report] one of the eight to life in prison, acquitted three, and sentenced the three at-large individuals to death. The Chief of Police Intelligence at the time of the murder, Colonel Daniel Mukalay, was the highest ranking of the suspects and was sentenced to death for planning the assassination.

The assassination of a prominent rights activist by law enforcement is merely the latest in the ongoing human rights issues facing the DRC. In February, a military court found Lt Col Kibibi Mutware guilty of involvement in mass rapes [JURIST report] that took place on New Year's Day and sentenced him to 20 years imprisonment, dismissing him from the military. 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. 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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