New York, February 23, 2016–A court in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday convicted a suspect of murdering journalist Soleil Balanga in April 2015, in Équateur province, according to a press release issued today by Journaliste en Danger, a Congolese press freedom organization. The High Court of Boende found Moussa Tendenle guilty of having slit the journalist’s throat and sentenced him to death.
“This conviction for the murder of Soleil Balanga sends an important message that journalists cannot be killed with impunity,” said Kerry Paterson, CPJ’s Africa research associate. “Holding perpetrators accountable for attacks on journalists is the only way to break the cycle of violence–although CPJ, as a member of the international human rights community, does not advocate for or condone the use of the death penalty.”
Balanga was killed after reporting on the replacement of the supervisor of the Monkoto General Hospital. The convicted killer is the son of the former hospital supervisor, according to news reports. Four other defendants in the case were acquitted, the reports said. Before his murder, Balanga’s radio station had been off the air because of broken equipment, so Balanga would walk through the town every morning and announce the local news using a megaphone, reports said.
CPJ research shows that nine out of 10 murders of journalists worldwide go unpunished.