29 July 2005
(JED/IFEX) - Jean Pierre Phambu Lutette, publisher of the Kinshasa-based newspaper "La Tolerance", was arrested by judicial inspectors in the early afternoon hours of 28 July 2005. He was immediately taken to the holding cell of the Kinshasa/Gombe Courts Monitoring Board, commonly known as the "Court Locker".
The official reason for the arrest is not known. But when JED spoke to the publisher in his cell, he said he had been questioned about an article which appeared in the paper's 13 June edition (issue 14). The article, signed only with the initials G.M.B., was entitled, "With State Prosecutor Tshimanga Mukeba's blessing, judicial inspectors are spreading terror in the port of Matadi [capital of Bas Congo province, western Democratic Republic of the Congo].
The article bemoaned "the deplorable behaviour of judicial inspectors in their abusive raids on local government offices, from Kinshasa to Matadi, with the sole purpose of manhandling financial managers, and which are disturbing to the entire Matadi population. The most striking case is that of the Customs and Excise Office (l'Office de douane et accises, OFIDA), which has become a preaching ground for inspectors (. . .)."
After questioning Phambu Lutete, judicial inspector Lotis Bongwalanga reportedly told the journalist that they had been looking for him for three weeks because of the article, which had "discredited" the state prosecutor, and whose author was "fictitious," according to the inspector.