DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi Pardons Killers of Laurent-Desire Kabila

DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi’s office said Saturday that he has pardoned two men convicted over the assassination of former ruler Laurent-Desire Kabila, the father of his political rival Joseph Kabila. The announcement comes during a political crisis that has put Tshisekedi at loggerheads with Joseph Kabila, his immediate predecessor as president.

Laurent-Desire Kabila was shot dead in his office by one of his bodyguards on January 16, 2001. The bodyguard was then shot dead. But two senior officials, the slain president’s former aide de camp Colonel Eddy Kapend and former intelligence chief Georges Leta, were among those convicted of the conspiracy to kill the president.

Both men have denied any part in the plot. Kapend and some of his co-accused “benefit from the presidential pardon of December 31, 2020, which is a measure of a general scope and of an impersonal character”, Giscard Kusema, of the presidential press team, told AFP.

It was part of a process that had started on June 30 last year when the president commuted death sentences to life jail terms, he added.

The latest presidential decree said that those people sentenced to 20 years in prison who had their served their sentences by December 31 should be freed, said Kusema. “Eddy Kapend and some members of his group are therefore concerned,” he added.