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President Kabila rejects calls to reopen case into father’s killing

It is nine years since Congolese president Laurent Kabila was gunned down by one of his own bodyguards. Some 50 people are behind bars for the crime, but the investigation into the killing was never concluded. For his son Joseph, the case is closed.


DRC President Joseph Kabila has resisted growing calls to reopen the unfinished investigation into the 2001 assassination of his father Laurent, for which 50 people remain behind bars.

Religious leaders and human rights organisations say the investigation and trial into the killing of the DRC’s then president was never closed and many of those languishing behind bars may be innocent.

“I ask that justice can be brought as quickly as possible so that the people involved can either be judged or set free,” Archbishop of Kinshasa Monsignor Laurent Monsengwo told FRANCE 24. “The court said that the investigation should continue. The investigation should continue or they should be freed.”

A 2003 military trail into the assassination ended with the presiding judge sentencing more than 50 people to long prison terms.

But during the verdict, the judge stunned the court by declaring that the trial was not over and that the investigation should continue.

A timid president?

Laurent Kabila was shot by a member of his own staff in his office at the presidential palace in Kinshasa in 2001 as part of a coup attempt. He died in Zimbabwe a week later.

The murderer, Rashidi Kasereka, was shot dead shortly after the attack and a small group of the presidential guard escaped the DRC.

Despite calls from church leaders and human rights organisations to bring a closure to the case, Joseph Kabila has repeatedly resisted calls to either reopen the case or grant amnesty to the imprisoned people pending further investigations.

At a recent press conference, Kabila responded to repeated questions over the case by FRANCE 24’s Arnaud Zajtman: “This is the third time Mr Zajtman has asked me that question.

“I have always given him the same answer - and I will give you the same answer today.

“The mistake made during the transition was to think that we could attain reconciliation without justice. That’s an illusion.”

Reporting from Kinshasa, Zajtman told FRANCE 24 that Kabila’s refusal to reopen the inquiry demonstrated the president’s timidity.

“It was important [at the time] for Kabila to demonstrate to the population that he had found his father’s killers,” he says.  “But what is surprising is that since then Kabila has been elected president in free and fair elections.

“So there is actually no need for him to show that those responsible for the killing are in jail. But what it does show is that this president is timid.”

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