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Congo Military Tribunal Acquits Woman of Inciting Supreme Court Arson

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VOA News - April 30, 2007

A military tribunal in Democratic Republic of Congo has acquitted a woman accused of inciting the arson of the Supreme Court. The trial against opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba's lawyer, has been a test case for human rights in Congo, as Franz Wild reports for VOA from Kinshasa.

Democratic Republic of Congo
Her supporters ululated and showered each other in baby powder after the presiding judge announced there was insufficient evidence to prove Marie Therese Nlandu had tried to incite a rebellion.

Nlandu, a leading lawyer in the DRC, and her family have lived in London since 1999. She returned to her home country last year to stand as the first female presidential candidate in the DRC's first free elections in 40 years.

After losing in the first round, she joined Bemba's legal team to dispute the second round results. Bemba later accepted President Joseph Kabila's victory.

Rights groups believe the charges against her were politically motivated because she was helping a legal challenge to President Kabila's victory after reports of fraud during the election.

The court went up in blazes last November during Bemba's appeal proceedings, destroying stacks of archived documents. Nlandu was arrested with the prosecution alleging three grenades had been found in her car. She pleaded not guilty to charges of inciting military insurgency.

Emerging from the court Nlandu called on Mr. Kabila to free all political detainees. The opposition recently boycotted parliament, complaining police and army were harassing its members.

 


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