EXTERNAL AI Index: AFR 22/04/96
UA 226/96 Fear of torture / Health concern 27 September 1996
CONGOPierre Otto Mbongo, businessman
Pierre Otto Mbongo, arrested by the security forces on 11 September 1996, has
not been seen since 18 September when he was moved to incommunicado detention
at an undisclosed location. Amnesty International fears that he may be facing
torture or ill-treatment, and is concerned for his health as he suffers from
gout and hypertension, both of which require constant medical care.
Pierre Otto Mbongo, director of a company known as Groupe Pierre Otto Mbongo
(GPOM), has been sued for bankruptcy by the Banque internationale de
développement du Congo (BIDC), International Bank for the Development of Congo.
He was due to appear in court on 21 October 1996.
At around 5.30 am on 11 September, his home in the capital, Brazzaville, was
reportedly surrounded by about 50 armed soldiers in uniform who arrested him
without a warrant. He was taken to Maya Maya International Airport's Border
Police station (Commissariat de Police de la frontière) where he was detained
for seven days.
On 18 September, following a committal order (mandat de depôt) issued by the
Dean of Brazzaville High Court Judges, the detainee was transferred to
Brazzaville central prison. On arrival at the prison, he was immediately taken
to a place which the authorities have not yet disclosed. Since then, his
relatives, lawyer and doctor have not seen him.
Sources in Brazzaville say that his arrest and incommunicado detention may
relate to his friendship with former President Denis Sassou N'Gesso, a political
rival of President Pascal Lissouba. Two allies of Denis Sassou N'Guesso, Colonel
Casimir Bouissa Matokot and Gabriel Longombe, were convicted on 5 September
1996 by a Brazzaville court on the charge of endangering the security of the
state. Colonel Matokot was sentenced to two years' imprisonment, while Gabriel
Longombe was stripped of his civil rights and prohibited from living in
Brazzaville for two years.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in French or your own language:
- expressing concern at reports that Pierre Otto Mbongo has been held
incommunicado by the security forces since 18 September 1996;
- seeking assurances that he is not being ill-treated and that he will not
be subjected to torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment;
- demanding that the authorities immediately reveal his whereabouts to his
relatives and explain the reasons for his arrest;
- requesting the authorities to allow him access to his lawyer and medical
doctor and to transfer him to a civilian detention centre supervised by the
judiciary without further delay;
- asking that he be allowed an opportunity to challenge the grounds for his
arrest before an independent court of law.
Président de la République