Democratic Republic of Congo

Congolese human rights chief found dead


The president of Congolese non-governmental organization, La Voix des Sans-voix or VSV (Voice for the Voiceless) was found dead on the road going out of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, according to police. Floribert Chebeya, 47, was found dead in his car, and his chauffeur, who had been driving at the time, has not been found.


VSV issued a statement saying Inspector-General John Numbi of the National Congolese Police in Kinshasa had called Chebeya on Tuesday, and he went to the office with his chauffeur.

Chebeya had exchanged a number of text messages with his wife, saying that he "had not able to meet the Inspector General" but that he was going to the National Teaching University.

RFI Correspondent Thomas Hubert in Kinshasa

RFI correspondent Thomas Hubert says that there is speculation in Kinshasa as to whether Chebeya had sent the text message himself.

After 21h15 Chebeya did not answer his cell phone, nor did his driver.

Inspector-General Numbi has not responded to journalist requests for an interview, nor has he made a statement, said Hubert.

Provincial police "consider it as a murder. The fact that Olkeo went on the record saying they are loking for the perpetrator seems to imply that they consider this a as a murder. There was no wounds on the body of Chebeya, there was no bullet wounds or cuts or anything like that," said Hubert.

Chebeya had been threatened by the police before, said Hubert.

There have been reports that Chebeya's car had condoms and women's hair in it. Some activists have gone on local radio to say that the items might have been planted to make the death look like a love story gone bad, said Hubert, adding that the public seem to think that he was killed for his human rights activities.

Chebeya was a well-known human rights defender. As the head of VSV, he worked on a number of issues, including helping to provide legal aid for those who could not afford it and helping those who had tried to emigrate to Europe but were deported.

The police investigation continues.


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