Four months on, death unsolved in Republic of Congo

New York, July 2, 2009–Nearly four months after the death of Franco-Congolese journalist Bruno Jacquet Ossébi, the Committee to Protect Journalists called today for authorities in the Republic of Congo to publicly disclose a report that was prepared weeks ago on their investigation.

A magistrate appointed in February to oversee an investigation into the cause of the fire that ravaged Ossébi’s residence in Brazzaville, Jean Michel Opo, told CPJ in mid-May that a police commission had given a report to his office. In separate interviews with CPJ last week, both Opo, who has since been reappointed to another position, and the police officer leading the commission, Col. Felix Obié, declined to comment on the content of the report. Opo said his reappointment was due to a general reshuffling of the cabinet in May. The new investigative magistrate handling the case, Jean-Louis Bitumbu, also declined to comment on the report, saying he was bound by judicial confidentiality.

“Four months after the death of journalist Bruno Jacquet Ossébi, pertinent questions persist while authorities appear reluctant to disclose the results of official investigations,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Tom Rhodes. “We urge authorities in Republic of Congo to address all the aspects of this case and publicly disclose the results of their investigation.”

Ossébi, an outspoken online columnist of the France-based Congolese news Web site Mwinda, was known for his extensive coverage of an international lawsuit targeting the private wealth of the ruling families of Congo, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea.