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Zaire: Death penalty: Dr Joseph Kanku Pinganay

, Index number: AFR 62/003/1997

Dr Joseph Kanku Pinganay was sentenced to death on 28 January 1997 by a court martial sitting in the northern Zairian town of Kisangani, after being found guilty of espionage. He was charged with revealing government forces positions to members of the armed opposition, Alliance des forces democratiques pour la liberation du Congo-Zaire (AFDL). He is a doctor and the leader of a political party known as the Mouvement pour le redressement national et la radiation du chomage (MRNRC). He has been given 24 hours to lodge an appeal, and is reported to have been represented by legal counsel during the trial.

EXTERNAL AI Index: AFR 62/03/97
EXTRA 11/97 Death penalty 29 January 1997
ZAIREDr Joseph Kanku Pinganay, medical doctor
On 28 January 1997 a court-martial (conseil de guerre) sitting in the northern
Zairian town of Kisangani sentenced Dr Joseph Kanku Pinganay to death. The
tribunal found him guilty of espionage by revealing the positions of Zairian
government forces to members of the Tutsi-led armed group known as the Alliance
des forces démocratiques pour la libération du Congo-Zaire (AFDL), Alliance
of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire. Dr Pinganay, who was
given 24 hours in which to appeal, is reported to have been represented by
legal counsel during the trial.
Dr Pinganay is a leader of a political party known as the Mouvement pour le
redressement national et la radiation du chomage (MRNRC), Movement for National
Recovery and Ending Unemployment. Before his arrest on 28 December 1996, Dr
Pinganay owned a dispensary at Nia-Nia, a town to the northeast of Kisangani.
Due to communication problems with Kisangani, Amnesty International has not
yet been able to obtain sufficient information to establish the fairness of
the trial. It is unclear whether Dr Pinganay has been able to appeal against
his sentence and conviction, and if so, when and where the appeal will be heard.
Amnesty International is concerned that Dr Pinganay could be executed if the
sentence is confirmed by the appeal court. Amnesty International is
unconditionally opposed to the death penalty on the grounds that it is cruel,
inhuman or degrading punishment and violates the ultimate right to life.
Fighting in eastern Zaire since October 1996, and the subsequent takeover of
parts of Zairian territory by the AFDL armed group, has served to heighten
tensions in much of the country. Thousands of soldiers fleeing from advancing
AFDL combatants have carried out human rights violations, including
extrajudicial executions, rape, torture and looting. In late October 1996
dozens of arrests of civilians and soldiers accused of being accomplices of
the AFDL took place. Many of those arrested are believed to be still detained
in the capital, Kinshasa, and Kisangani.
In a bid to recapture territory lost to the AFDL, the Zairian Government has
since December 1996 been carrying out a reshuffle in the leadership of the
Zairian security forces. In early January 1997 the new Minister of Defence,
General Likulia Bolongo, announced that the army would carry out a
counter-offensive which would spare no Zairian or foreign national supporting
the AFDL. He also announced that the armed forces must rid themselves of
criminals, runaways, pillagers and vagabonds who must be punished by
court-martials in a severe and spectacular manner. At least 20 officers of
the armed forces accused of unspecified criminal activities are reported to
be in custody awaiting trial.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters in
French or your own language:
- expressing concern at the death sentence imposed by a court-martial in
Kisangani on Dr Joseph Kanku Pinganay;
- urging that he be given adequate opportunity to exercise his right to appeal
to an independent and impartial higher appeal court;
- explaining your unconditional opposition to the death penalty in all cases
and urging that the death sentences, if confirmed by an appeal court, be commuted
to a more humane punishment;
- seeking assurances that any defendants convicted in future trials will not
be sentenced to death or executed.
Prime Minister
Monsieur Léon KENGO WA DONDO
Premier Ministre
Hôtel du Conseil exécutif
République du Zaïre
Telegrams: Premier Ministre, Kinshasa, Zaire
Faxes: +243 88 42062
Salutation: Monsieur le Premier Ministre / Dear Prime Minister
Minister of Defence
Général LIKULIA Bolongo
Ministre de la Défense nationale
et des anciens combattants
Ministère de la Défense
BP 4734, Kinshasa-Gombe
République du Zaïre
Telegrams: Ministre Defense, Kinshasa, Zaire
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre / Dear Minister
Military Procurator General
Colonel ABONGO a Mandjeku
Auditeur Général des Forces Armées Zaïroises
Auditorat des FAZ
Ministère de la Défense nationale
BP 4734, Kinshasa-Ngaliema
République du Zaïre
Telegrams: Auditeur General FAZ, Kinshasa, Zaire
Salutation: Monsieur l'Auditeur Général / Dear Military Procurator General
Monsieur THIBWABWA Ashila Pashi
Ministre de la Justice
des réformes institutionnelles
et Garde des Sceaux
Ministère de la Justice
BP 3137, Kinshasa-Gombe
République du Zaïre
Général MAHELE Lieko Bokungu
Chef d'Etat-major général des
Forces armées zairoises (FAZ)
Ministère de la Défense nationale
Kinshasa-Ngaliema, République du Zaïre
and to diplomatic representatives of Zaire accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 3 March 1997.

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