DRC: Strange justice for an opposition leader

DRC: Strange justice for an opposition leader

Locked up for 75 days, Salomon Kalonda’s health is worrying.

MOur brother is a very modest person. He will prefer to stay in his cell rather than appear diminished”, explains Moïse Moni Della, the “big brother” of Salomon Kalonda, the political advisor of Moïse Katumbi, the main opponent who stands on the road to the second term dreamed of by Félix Tshisekedi. The “big brother”, joined in Kisangani, evokes a “political file”arbitrary detention”.Through Solomon, it is Moïse Katumbi who is targeted”he continues, he who spent more than five months in Congolese jails at the end of 2016, under the Kabila regime, accused of being the intellectual author of riots which left more than 50 dead in September 2017.

“I was detained for having done nothing”, he explained to us when he left prison. Terms that he applies today to his “little brother” who was violently arrested on May 30 on the tarmac of Ndjili international airport, as he was preparing to board a plane heading to Lubumbashi. . Since then, the man has been detained in Ndolo military prison. Last week, the inmate was suffering and was taken for some medical examinations. Two days later, he returned to the hospital for a day of tests. “The doctor prescribed twelve days of treatment”, explains one of his visitors. “It’s not trivial, continues one of his lawyers who points out the slowness of the administration in hearing “calls from the medical profession”.

“We are told that the request must follow the hierarchical route”, continues, exasperated, one of his defenders. In the military ranks, some explain that “in this case, to go back to the real order givers, we have to go very, very high in the military hierarchy.” A remark which, for many, confirms the very political significance of this issue.

Very light loads?

“The folder is empty”, explains one of his lawyers. “The only thing I can tell you is that the reasons for which he was arrested, in particular, the possession of the famous Jericho pistol, were not even taken into account”adds Me Hervé Diakiese, another lawyer from Salomon Kalonda’s team who spoke this Wednesday noon on Top Congo radio.

“We have the feeling that the arrest preceded the collection of information and evidence,” wonders a Western diplomat on condition of anonymity. The man attempts a parallel with the case of the assassination of Chérubin Okende, the spokesperson for Moïse Katumbi’s party, found murdered at the wheel of his car on July 13. “In both cases, justice, whether civil or military, was quick to construct the scenarios that interested it… before having to backtrack, often discreetly, in the face of the reality of the facts. The uneasiness is real and the latest elements of the Kalonda file are very worrying”he continues, highlighting “the very tight deadlines given to lawyers to prepare Mr. Kalonda’s defense.”

We were notified on Monday of the scheduling of his appearance on Thursday, explains one of his lawyers. The deadlines are incredibly short, especially since until August 15 we did not have access to the file. This is very problematic. We could think that this above all demonstrates a desire to condemn our client by not allowing us to calmly prepare his defense”continues one of its defenders who hopes “obtain additional time” to prepare the defense. “For weeks the file dragged on and suddenly everything had to speed up. For what ? What does this sudden frenzy mean which does not correspond to the time of justice? We cannot help but think that clear orders have been transmitted”.

The pursuit of one opponent, the elimination of another on the eve of a major election, seriously calls into question the prospect of a peaceful, democratic and inclusive passage through the polls, as the international community has been demanding for years. months to Congolese officials who had already come to power in 2018 in a climate that was as contested as it was doubtful.