DRC rights activist out on bail

Kinshasa - The jailed president of a human rights group
in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been
freed on bail because of poor health,
his association said on Monday.

Golden Misabiko, an outspoken critic of

the role of state agencies in a uranium mine

in the southeastern province of Katanga,

appeared in court on August 20 charged

with "spreading false rumours inciting

the population to rebellion."

He was freed on bail at the request

of his lawyers, who said his health

had deteriorated since he was picked up

by intelligence agents on July 24 in Lubumbashi,

the provincial capital.

Misabiko's African Association for

the Defence of Human Rights (Asadho)

in July denounced the role of some state

institutions in illegal artisanal mining

at the Shinkolobwe uranium mine,

despite it being shut down after a cave-in in 2004

French nuclear group Areva won the rights
to develop the mine as part of a contract
signed with the Kinshasa government in March.

The contract gives Areva mining rights
across the vast, mineral-rich country.

Shinkolobwe's place in history is
as the source of the uranium used in the Hiroshima bomb.

Timothee Mbuya, the vice-president
of Asadho, told AFP on Monday that Misabiko
was freed last Friday and that all he had done
was to "alert the authorities to
the illicit exploitation of uranium."

Misabiko is scheduled to appear in court
again on Wednesday.

Early in August, 221 non-governmental
organisations sent a joint letter
to President Joseph Kabila, urging him
to have Misabiko freed.

The NGOs' letter, copied to AFP, protested
at abuse of power in the arrest and
urged Kabila: "We ask you to ensure an end
to all interference by executive power
in the administration of justice
in the case that concerns us." - AFP

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