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Police officers on trial over death of DRC rights activist

media The family and friends of Floribert Chebeya prepare to bury his body on … AFP

The trial of eight police officers charged with kidnapping and killing a leading Democratic Republic of Congo rights activist will open at a military court in Kinshasa on Friday. Floribert Chebeya disappeared at the start of June with his driver Fidèle Bazana after attempting to meet chief of police General John Numbi.

The meeting never took place and Chebaya’s body was found the next day gagged and bound in the back seat of his car in the outskirts of the capital. The body of Bazana has yet to be found.

Chebeya was the head of Voix des Sans Voix (VSV - Voice of the Voiceless). According to an autopsy report, he died of a heart attack after suffering physical abuse.

The highest-ranked police officer on trial is special investigations chief Colonel Daniel Mukalay. Three of the accused, two majors and a warrant officer, are thought to be on the run and will be tried in absentia.

Chebeya was repeatedly targeted by police after founding VSV in 1983, and he spent 10 weeks in prison in 1996.

VSV has said that Numbi is the chief suspect in his death. It has accused the government of a "denial of justice" for placing the case with a military court that does not have jurisdiction to try him.

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