Thursday, April 23, 2009

Burundi: FBI to help probe murder of Burundi anti-corruption activist

By AFP/April 22, 2009

BUJUMBURA (AFP) -Burundi has accepted a US offer to send a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) team to probe the murder here early in April of a prominent anti-corruption campaigner, the government said on Wednesday.

Justice Minister Jean Bosco Ndikumana said that help in finding the killers of Ernest Manirumva was "welcome, especially since our police lack means, above all the forensic police."

Manirumva, the vice-president of OLUCOME (the Anti-corruption and Economic Malpractice Observatory), was stabbed to death on the night of April 8 when his offices and home were ransacked and documents stolen, police said.

Urged to co-operate fully.

Ndikumana said that the United States would be informed on Wednesday of Burundi's acceptance of the offer, while Burundian prosecutors and police will be urged to co-operate fully with the agents from the FBI when they arrive.

The day after the murder, deputy police chief Gervais Ndirakobuca stressed that it was not "an ordinary crime during a robbery," while OLUCOME requested an international probe, saying it was evident that Manirumva was killed because he was working on sensitive cases.

The observatory team has in recent years unearthed several graft schemes, among them the fraudulent sale of the presidential jet in 2006 in an incident that led to the sacking of the then finance minister.

The watchdog also blew the whistle on double billing of oil imports, resulting in the imprisonment of the Central Bank chief and another finance minister fleeing into exile in 2007.

On April 16, more than 200 civic associations in Burundi presented an open letter to President Pierre Nkurunziza before several Western diplomats, in which they asked for an end to "assassinations and intimidation."

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