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Congo Soldiers Charged with Killing UN Journalist

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VOA News - June 15, 2007 3:45 PM

In the Democratic Republic of Congo two soldiers have been charged with the death of a journalist working for a United Nations-backed radio station. Proceedings against the soldiers started only a day after the killing, as Franz Wild reports for VOA from Kinshasa.

Journalist Serges Maheche works for Radio Okapi, a U.N.-sponsored readio station in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Journalist Serge Maheche worked for Radio Okapi, a U.N.-sponsored radio station in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Serge Maheshe, 31, was walking to his car after visiting a friend Wednesday night, when he was gunned down in Bukavu, near Congo's eastern border.

The police confirmed it arrested and questioned two soldiers Thursday.  Chief inspector Gaston Luzembo said their guns showed signs of recent use.

Maheshe was the Bukavu editor for Radio Okapi, a broadcaster established by the U.N. and Hirondelle Foundation to support Congo's peace.

The gunmen shot Maheshe in the legs and chest.  The two people with him were unharmed. 

Local media say he had received death threats.  He is the third journalist to be killed in the DRC in the last three years. The organization Reporters Without Borders says there "is an appalling climate of fear" among journalists in the town. 

Bukavu is the capital of South Kivu province, and villagers in the region are frequently attacked by militia fighters. Congo is struggling to maintain stability in the troubled east after a five-year civil war, which ended in 2003.

Witnesses say around 5,000 people thronged around the church to attend Maheshe's funeral in Bukavu Friday.


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