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DR Congo frees 26 prisoners for ex-leader Kabila’s assassination

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Jubilation at the Makala prison in Kinshasa Friday as Congolese president Felix Tshisekedi pardoned at least 26 men, who were convicted for planning the assassination of ex-president Laurent Kabila in 2001.

They include Colonel Eddy Kapend, a prominent figure, Nono Lutula, a former special advisor on security and Leta Mangasa, and a former head of the National Intelligence Agency.

Tshisekedi freed the men through a presidential decree read on state television over the weekend. He said the pardon was out of “humanity, compassion and national reconciliation”.

The ex-Congolese president, Laurent Kabila was assassinated at the presidential palace in Kinshasa on January 16, 2001.

Despite a long probe into his murder, the exact circumstances of Kabila’s assassination is still in contention.

Several soldiers and civilians were arrested in connection with the incident. In 2002, a military tribunal formally charged Colonel Kapend and General Nawej Yav, a close associate of Colonel Kapend, with conspiracy and murder of the late Kabila.

The military court trial was suspended for a few months, but proceedings resumed later in 2002. The chief prosecutor called for the death penalty for over 100 accused persons with sentences ranging from two to fifteen years imprisonment for the others.

Some have since died in custody while others escaped to Sweden.