World Anti-corruption trial in the DRC: death of the president of the court
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The magistrate who presided over the court in charge of the trial Vital Kamerhe, a central figure in Congolese political life, prosecuted for embezzlement, died suddenly on the night of Tuesday to Wednesday in Kinshasa, police said.
"The trial will continue. There will indeed be a hearing on June 3. There is no debate on it," assured AFP a judicial source. By lifting Monday the second hearing of this unprecedented trial in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the deceased, Raphaël Yanyi, had himself scheduled the next June 3 before the tribunal de grande instance.
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"Around 2:00 a.m. (01:00 GMT), he felt unwell and was taken to the Nganda hospital center. He died of a heart attack," a Kinshasa police official told AFP. , Colonel Miguel Bagaya.
"By transporting him to the hospital, his wife said that his heart was no longer beating," said one of his nephews on Top Congo FM radio. "We have requested the autopsy and we are waiting," he added.
The resounding trial Kamerhe, chief of staff to the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo Félix Tshisekedi and his main ally in the conquest of power in late 2018-early 2019, opened on May 11.
With two co-defendants, Mr. Kamerhe is prosecuted for the alleged embezzlement of some $ 50 million of public funds intended for the construction of social housing in the form of 4,500 prefabricated houses made from materials imported from Turkey.
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The first two hearings took place inside the central prison of Makala where Vital Kamerhe and one of his co-defendants, the Lebanese entrepreneur Jammal Samih, have been in preventive detention since the beginning of April.
They were broadcast live on the state channel RTNC.
"The trial will continue. The succession is well organized by law," a judicial source told AFP.
"The clerk will record the presence of the new president" of the tribunal "before reading the minutes of the previous hearings," added this source.
The defense of Mr. Kamerhe, who claims the innocence of his client, asked the court Monday to invite several witnesses to the stand, including the governor of the Central Bank and several ministers.
"Death can be natural. But when it occurs at a delicate moment, it becomes very suspicious anyway. Investigations must be seriously carried out to determine the cause," reacted the pro-democracy activist Carbone Beni, co-founder of the movement. Citizen Filimbi.
The announcement of the magistrate's death caused "some scuffles near his residence," said the police. By midday, calm had returned around the residence where police officers settled, according to an AFP videographer.
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Cambodia's drug war has seen prisoner numbers skyrocket during coronavirus pandemic .
Cambodia's little-known war on drugs has led to human rights abuses and severe overcrowding in prisons, sparking fears they could become incubators for COVID-19. "If one person got a respiratory infection, within a few days everyone in the cell got it. It was a breeding ground for illness," Long, a former detainee at Cambodia's largest prison, was quoted in the report.On Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng said he wanted 10,000 prisoners released. The move was welcomed by rights groups but greeted cautiously by the country's prison officials, who noted a lack of detail.