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02KINSHASA876 2002-04-12 14:54:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kinshasa
Cable title:  

UPDATE ON LAURENT KABILA ASSASSINATION TRIAL

Tags:   PGOV PHUM PINR KJUS CG 
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P 121454Z APR 02
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2389
INFO RWANDA COLLECTIVE
SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KINSHASA 000876 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/11/2007
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR KJUS CG
SUBJECT: UPDATE ON LAURENT KABILA ASSASSINATION TRIAL

REF: KINSHASA 793

CLASSIFIED BY: CLASSIFIED BY POLOFF LAURA ENGELBRECHT, REASONS 1.5 B & D




1. (C) SUMMARY: THE LAURENT KABILA ASSASSINATION TRIAL BEFORE
A MILITARY TRIBUNAL BEGAN APRIL 3 IN A PUBLIC COURTROOM.
CURRENTLY, THE WITNESSES AND SOME DEFENDANTS (SUCH AS EDDY
KAPEND, FORMER AIDE-DE-CAMP TO KABILA AND ALLEGED
COUP-PLOTTER) ARE TESTIFYING ON THEIR ROLES IN THE EVENTS
IMMEDIATELY SURROUNDING THE ASSASSINATION. SEVERAL
CONTRADICTORY VERSIONS HAVE BEEN PUT FORTH, AND THE COURT
WILL LIKELY CONTINUE TO HEAR TESTIMONY FOR QUITE SOME TIME.
NOW THAT THE TRIAL HAS STARTED, THERE IS AT LEAST A SEMBLANCE
OF ORDER AND DUE PROCESS, A WELCOME CHANGE FROM THE LONG
IMPRISONMENT OF THE ACCUSED WITHOUT CHARGES OR LAWYERS. END
SUMMARY.



2. (C) POLOFF ATTENDED TWO SESSIONS OF THE ONGOING TRIAL FOR
THE 116 DEFENDANTS IN THE LDK ASSASSINATION. THE TRIAL IS
BEING HELD AT MAKALA CENTRAL PRISON, AND BY PREVAILING LOCAL
STANDARDS, IT IS QUITE WELL ORGANIZED AND ACCESSIBLE TO THE
PUBLIC. THE COURTROOM INCLUDES A RAISED PLATFORM FOR THE
MILITARY JUDGES, A TABLE FACING IT FOR WITNESSES AND LAWYERS,
A SEATING SECTION FOR THE DEFENDANTS (LOOKS LIKE A JURY BOX),
AND ROWS OF SEATING FOR THE LAWYERS (OVER 100). THE PUBLIC
(MAINLY RELATIVES AND FRIENDS OF THE DEFENDANTS) IS SEATED IN
AN ADJOINING COURTYARD UNDER A SHADE SHELTER. ALL JUDGES,
LAWYERS, AND WITNESSES USE MICROPHONES, AND THE TRIAL CAN BE
CLEARLY HEARD BY ALL. MANY OF THE OTHER MAKALA PRISONERS
HAVE BEEN ALLOWED TO COME AND WATCH THE TRIAL. MILITARY AND
POLICE PRESENCE (INCLUDING ZIMBABWEAN SOLDIERS) IS HEAVY BUT
NOT MENACING. THERE IS A RELAXED ATMOSPHERE DURING THE COURT
RECESSES - EVERYONE (THE LAWYERS, JUDGES, MILITARY, MAKALA
PRISONERS, AND EVEN THE DEFENDANTS IN THE TRIAL) STAND AROUND
CHATTING TOGETHER IN THE COURTYARD, WHERE VENDORS HAWK DRINKS
AND SANDWICHES.



3. (C) FOLLOWING IS A BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE DAILY PROGRESSION
OF THE TRIAL:

APRIL 3: THE COURT CONSIDERED TECHNICAL QUESTIONS AND
OBJECTIONS TO PROCEDURE RAISED BY THE DEFENSE LAWYERS.

APRIL 4-5: THE COURT MOVED IMMEDIATELY TO HEARING TESTIMONY
ABOUT THE EVENTS SURROUNDING THE ASSASSINATION. SEVERAL
DEFENDANTS (KAPEND AND THREE MILITARY GUARDS) TESTIFIED, AS
DID FORMER FINANCE ADVISOR MOTA, WHO WAS WITH THE PRESIDENT
AT THE TIME OF THE ASSASSINATION. THEIR VERSIONS OF EVENTS
DIFFER SIGNIFICANTLY. KAPEND HAS DENIED THAT HE KILLED THE
ASSASSIN RASHIDI, SAYING RASHIDI COMMITTED SUICIDE AND KAPEND
EMPTIED HIS GUN INTO HIM "OUT OF ANGER" AFTER HE WAS ALREADY
DEAD. MOTA CLAIMS HE SAW NO HUMAN BEINGS IN THE COMPOUND
RIGHT AFTER THE SHOOTING, ONLY A COW. CHIRIBAGULA, ONE OF
THE GUARDS, CLAIMS MOTA NOT ONLY SAW HIM, BUT SPOKE TO HIM
("AND I AM NOT A COW"). MOTA, WHO WAS IN COURT MERELY AS A
WITNESS, HAS NOW BEEN DETAINED FOR THE DURATION OF THE TRIAL
ON THE GROUNDS OF SELF-CONTRADICTORY TESTIMONY (PROBABLY TO
PREVENT HIM FROM FLEEING). (NOTE: MOTA'S COW STORY MAY HAVE
BEEN AN ATTEMPT TO IMPLY THAT THERE WAS SORCERY INVOLVED, AS
SOME CONGOLESE BELIEVE THAT PEOPLE CAN TURN THEMSELVES INTO
ANIMALS THROUGH MAGIC.)

APRIL 8: THE COURT MOVED TEMPORARILY TO THE PALAIS DE MARBRE,
THE SITE OF THE ASSASSINATION, TO ALLOW THE WITNESSES TO
REENACT THE EVENTS.

APRIL 9-10: MORE TESTIMONY WAS HEARD. THE DRIVER OF GEORGES
MIRINDI (AN ALLEGED CONSPIRATOR IN THE PLOT) TESTIFIED THAT
ON THE DAY BEFORE THE ASSASSINATION, HE WARNED LAURENT
KABILA'S DRIVER OF THE PLOT AND TOLD KABILA'S DRIVER TO
INFORM THE HIERARCHY. KABILA'S DRIVER TESTIFIED THAT HE
INFORMED THE SECURITY SERVICES. THE TWO SECURITY SERVICES
OFFICERS SAID THEY HAD HAD NO TRANSPORTATION TO GO ARREST
MIRINDI. THEIR BOSS TESTIFIED THAT HE HAD NOT BEEN TOLD.

APRIL 11: GAETAN KAKUDJI, LAURENT KABILA'S FORMER MINISTER OF
INTERIOR AND CLOSE ADVISOR, TESTIFIED ABOUT HIS AND OTHER
SENIOR ADVISORS' (INCLUDING MWENZE KONGOLO) ACTIONS
IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE SHOOTING. HE TALKED ABOUT A MEETING TO
DISCUSS PLACING JOSEPH KABILA IN THE PRESIDENCY TO KEEP
THINGS STABLE, AND HE STRESSED THAT THEY WERE TRYING TO CARRY
OUT LDK'S WISHES. HE CONTRADICTED AND CORRECTED HIMSELF ON
OCCASION DURING HIS TESTIMONY, AND HIS ATTEMPTS AT HUMOR
BORDERED AT TIMES ON IMPUDENCE IN ADDRESSING THE JUDGE.



4. (C) EVEN BEFORE THE TRIAL BEGAN, IT HAD SEVERE DUE
PROCESS PROBLEMS, SUCH AS THE YEAR-LONG JAILING OF DEFENDANTS
WITHOUT LAWYERS OR CHARGES, THE SHORT AMOUNT OF TIME GIVEN TO
PREPARE THE DEFENSE, THE TRIAL OF SO MANY DEFENDANTS ON
WIDELY VARYING CHARGES IN A SINGLE TRIAL, AND THE TRIAL OF
CIVILIANS IN A MILITARY COURT. NEVERTHELESS, NOW THAT IT HAS
BEGUN, THE TRIAL SEEMS TO BE PROCEEDING MORE-OR-LESS SMOOTHLY
AND OPENLY, WITH BOTH THE PROSECUTION AND DEFENSE HAVING
ADEQUATE TIME TO CROSS-EXAMINE THE WITNESSES. MANY ASPECTS
OF THE PROCEDURE LOOK STRANGE TO U.S. OBSERVORS (SUCH AS
REQUIRING DEFENDANTS TO TESTIFY, THE ORDER OF WITNESSES,
ETC...), BUT THIS IS LARGELY DUE TO THE FACT THAT THE DRC
MILITARY COURT (COM) CODE IS BASED ON THE 1960'S BELGIAN
PENAL CODE AND IS QUITE DIFFERENT FROM TRIAL FORMAT USED IN
U.S. CIVILIAN COURTS.



5. (C) BOTH THE INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS
(ICRC) AND THE INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW GROUP HAVE
MONITORS IN REGULAR ATTENDANCE AT THE TRIAL. EACH DAY'S
PROCEEDINGS ARE ALSO COVERED EXTENSIVELY IN THE LOCAL PRESS
AND, AS DEVELOPMENTS WARRANT, BY INTERNATIONAL JOURNALISTS.


SWAN