KINSHASA, 3 January 2021 – President Felix Tshisekedi has pardoned two men who were convicted over the assassinaton of Laurent Kabila 20 years ago.
Kabila was shot and killed by his bodyguard but the two pardoned – Col. Eddy Kapend and Geogre Leta, were found guilty of being implicated in the assassination.
Col. Kapend, who was Laurent Kabila’s right-hand man, was found guilty of reportedly masterminding the assassination along with several members of the late Kabila’s security team.
Georges Beta, who was intelligence chief in the Kabila team, was found guilty for the same reason.
Both men denied any part in the assassination and have continued to do so.
President Tshisekedi commuted the death sentences of the accused back in June 2020.
The son of the assassinated Congolese leader, Joseph Kabila, became president after his father’s death in 2001 and stayed on in power for 18 years.
In December 2018, Joseph Kabila lost his re-election bid to Tshisekedi in a ballot criticized by many as not not entirely free, fair or transparent.
Many, including the bishops of the Catholic Church and the French government, challenged results that gave Tshisekedi the winner.
It was speculated that Kabila and his successor had concluded some backroom power-sharing deal.
The two formed a governing alliance under which the two seemed to work hand-in-gloove in governing the country.
In recent months, the alliance has hit troubled waters, with Tshisekedi seeking to end political dependence on Kabila in favor of taking full control of the reins of power.
The two officers benefit from the pardon on grounds that it is extended to anyone who was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2001 and had already served their term by 31 December 2020.
The pardon is “a measure of a general scope and of an impersonal character,” Giscard Kusema, of the presidential press team is cited as telling the French News Agency.