In an article in the Belgian newspaper La Libre Belgique, Belgian justice has opened a file against the Congolese Minister of Justice, Alexis Thambwe Mwamba. The case dates back to 1998, when the Minister was part of the pro-Rwandan Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie (RCD) rebellion. He is accused of having justified the destruction by the RCD of an aircraft carrying civilians alleging that it was carrying troops.
The case concerns the Compagnie Arienne Congolaise (CAA) plane shot down on 18 October 1998 by the RCD, costing the lives of 50 civilians as the plane approached Kindu, a city in the east of the country, back then under occupation of the pro-Rwandan rebellion. The former RCD officer had justified the destruction of the aircraft by claiming that it was carrying government troops from Kinshasa.
According to the Belgian media, Judge Michel Claise was appointed by the Brussels prosecutor’s office to take charge of the investigation of this file, in response to a complaint filed by several families of victims of the shot down plane.
The opening of this inquiry takes place in a context where several Congolese authorities close to President Kabila have fallen under the financial sanctions and assets freeze imposed by the European Union and the United States of America.
This tightening of the vice against Kinshasa reflects the exasperation of an international community offended by the political and security situation in the DRC, in particular the delay in holding elections.