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Vol 43 No 8

Published 19th April 2002


Congo-Kinshasa

Who killed Laurent?

The death penalty hangs over the accused but the trial is alternately tedious and entertaining. At Kinshasa's central prison on 15 March, a military court began trying some 125 suspects charged with plotting the assassination of the late President Laurent-Désiré Kabila (AC Vol 43 No 2). The murder weapon has disappeared, the alleged killer is dead and many defendants claim they have been tortured. The judges get the accused muddled up. Handcuffed suspects clownishly re-enact events, Congolese rumba plays on loudspeakers during breaks. In the first week, there was a shortage of plastic chairs, and defendants and lawyers stood in the heat for up to six hours a day. Many of those accused have been in gaol without legal advice since Kabila was shot by a bodyguard on 16 January 2001.

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