freelance

April 5, 2010, in Beni, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Armed men in military uniforms surrounded Chebeya, 35, in front of his house around 10 p.m. in the volatile eastern city of Beni, according to the local press freedom group Journaliste En Danger (JED). Chebeya surrendered his cell phones, videotapes, and money and pleaded for his life, but the gunmen fired several point-blank shots, his wife, a witness, told JED.

Chebeya, a father of four, was returning from a recording studio where he had been editing video footage when he was gunned down, according to local journalists. Authorities immediately arrested two military officers in connection with the killing, and a third on a related weapons charge. A military tribunal tried, convicted, and sentenced the officers within 12 days. The proceedings, which resulted in death sentences for two suspects and a five-year prison term for the third, did not shed light on a motive for the crime or on the circumstances, according to local journalists.

Local human rights defenders said they were concerned by the haste with which the proceedings were conducted. Chebeya's widow said the suspects did not match the appearance of the killers, an assertion that prompted JED to call for a retrial. Authorities had been criticized before--notably in the 2007 slaying of journalist Serge Maheshe--for rushing journalist murder cases to trial and trumping up charges against innocent defendants.


Motive Unconfirmed: CPJ is investigating to determine whether the death was work-related.


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