Three Congolese doctors have been detained over the murder of a World Health Organization (WHO) doctor who was fighting an Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo, a military prosecutor said on Wednesday.
Cameroonian doctor Richard Valery Mouzoko Kiboung was shot dead on April 19 in an attack on a hospital in the eastern city of Butembo.
The arrested doctors will be prosecuted for “terrorism” and “criminal conspiracy,” Lieutenant-Colonel Jean-Baptiste Kumbu Ngoma, military prosecutor for Butembo in North Kivu province, told reporters.
The three are accused of holding meetings on April 14 to plot the assassination of Mouzoko, he added.
The WHO said Mouzoko had been deployed as part of a medical team to help rein in the Ebola outbreak which started last August in North Kivu.
The prosecutor said the doctors were “among the moral authors” of the attack on Mouzoko. He said one more doctor was being sought in the case.
In a letter to the mayor of Butembo, the local doctors’ association expressed indignation at the arrests and said they would go on strike if their colleagues were not released within 48 hours.
But the military prosecutor dismissed their demands as “out of the question”.
“It’s a delicate situation. As a man has died, we absolutely have to know the truth about what happened,” the coordinator of the fight against Ebola in the DR Congo, Jean-Jacques Muyembe, told reporters.
More than 1,800 people have died from the virus in the past year.
The outbreak is the second deadliest on record, after the epidemic that struck West Africa in 2014-2016, which killed more than 11,300 people.
Efforts to roll back the highly contagious haemorrhagic fever have been hampered not only by fighting but also by resistance within communities to preventative measures, care facilities and safe burials.
Attacks on health workers have had a devastating effect, with seven murdered and more than 50 seriously hurt, according to an unofficial tally.
After the killing of Mouzoko in April, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “We will not be intimidated…we will finish our work.”
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