Jean-Pierre Ekanga Mukuna

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Police arrested Vinalu on June 24, 2000, in connection with two articles that he wrote in the June 20 edition of Le Carrousel. One article lamented the lack of cooperation among various DRC opposition movements and charged that free speech was impossible in the DRC because “to dare speak one’s mind is a sure guarantee that one will be accused of endangering state security.” The other piece speculated on possible reasons behind a recent public confrontation between President Kabila and Minister for Mineral Resources Victor M’Poyo (who was subsequently removed from his post).

On July 26, the military prosecutor told local reporters that Vinalu’s articles had had the effect of “demoralizing the Army,” describing them as “veiled calls to opposition leaders and sympathizers to rebel against the powers that be.” The military prosecutor further announced that Vinalu would be tried in a court martial because his alleged offenses amounted to “high treason,” an offense punishable by death.

Mukuna was arrested on June 23, 2000, reportedly for refusing to reveal Vinalu’s home address. He was released on July 10, but then re-arrested on August 17, when he appeared in court to testify on Vinalu’s behalf. He was also charged with high treason and jailed at Kinshasa’s Penitentiary and Reeducation Centre.

Both journalists were sentenced to two years in jail without parole on September 12, 2000. They were released on January 4, 2001 by presidential amnesty.