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Jailed DRC Opposition Leader Said to Be Seriously Ill

  • Nick Long

DRC opposition political leader Etienne Tshisekedi (Center R) and opposition leader Diomi Ndongala (Center L) are seen at a mass for peace at the Notre Dame church if Kinshasa in this June 22, 2012, file photo.

DRC opposition political leader Etienne Tshisekedi (Center R) and opposition leader Diomi Ndongala (Center L) are seen at a mass for peace at the Notre Dame church if Kinshasa in this June 22, 2012, file photo.

A leading opposition politician in the Democratic Republic of Congo is seriously ill in prison, his wife says, and not receiving the treatment he needs. Human rights organizations and a worldwide lawmakers union have called for the release of Diomi Ndongala but his wife Patrizia says the authorities are not listening.

Last year Diomi Ndongala was the architect of a plan to unite opposition parties behind a common program. On the day this program was due to be signed he disappeared and authorities said he had fled justice.

The previous day they had issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of raping a minor.

Three months later he was found by the side of a road at midnight, in poor health and needing surgery. He told media he had been kept in a secret jail. This year he was arrested in April on the same charge, for which he has never been tried, and a few days later another charge was added, of plotting to assassinate President Joseph Kabila.

He is now in Kinshasa’s central prison where his wife Patrizia says his health has quickly deteriorated in the past three weeks.

She said he is practically unable to move, has high fevers and is vomiting frequently and the only treatments he is receiving are aspirin, anti-fever injections and painkillers, in excessive doses.

Irregularities alleged

Patrizia said there are several irregularities about his arrest and detention.

The most serious, she said, is that the Supreme Court has ruled three times that Ndongala should be kept under surveillance at his home, and yet the state prosecutor is refusing to apply the ruling.

She said the prison doctor has said he should be transferred to a hospital, and the prison director has said Ndongala is not his responsibility as he is supposed to be under house arrest.

Patrizia Diomi added that a few weeks ago a delegation from the Inter-Parliamentary Union, a worldwide federation of lawmakers, visited the DRC state prosecutor, to ask why Ndongala had not been transferred from prison but he could give no explanation.

In reality, Patrizia Diomi said, this is not a judicial matter, it is all about politics.

The Congolese human rights organization Voice of the Voiceless said last year that the man who claimed to be the father of the girl Ndongala allegedly raped was not in fact her father and had recently been convicted for blackmail.

The African Association for the Defense of Human Rights has described the accusations against Ndongala as relentless persecution. And an all-party group of British lawmakers has described the charges against him as a political ploy to intimidate the opposition.

The state prosecutor, Kabange Numbi, told U.N. Radio Okapi in Congo that the best place to keep Diomi Ndongala under surveillance is the central prison.
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