In the middle of December, Barthe Cortes was arrested in Democratic Republic of the Congo for l?se majest?; that is, a so-called offence against the dignity of a reigning sovereign, and precisely in this case, the dignity of government. In fact a reason for arresting is not entirely clear. There are some hypotheses - the first says that BC is suspected of supporting rebels, the second says that Barthe would not cooperate with Congo government according to their rules, and that; among others, he did not agree to deliver a former FDLE rebel to Congo authorities. This rebel is now employed in BVC; apparently, if Cortes had delivered him he would have avoided prison.
And the third hypothesis is kind of funny in this whole serious situation - "a possible assassination attempt on a minister's life":-) But who knows, maybe all three hypotheses are true?
In the interview published in Kampala News Uganda journalist and human rights defender Joe Onyanga reports on what he has heard from the witness of what happened in Goma (BC is building another airport there)
"(..) I was not a direct witness, I just heard a relation of one witnesses. On the day in question, Kivu was visited by Foreign Minister Ignace G. Mavinga. As you know, he is also in charge of restoring peace in Eastern provinces, including Kivu. Ministers travel in such dangerous regions in a convoy of cars belonging mostly to security guards, with the exception of the one carrying the Minister. So, eight large armoured cars came to the airport under construction near Goma. Local people let their cows graze nearby. A farmer was just herding his cows when a government car hit one of his animals. The impetus threw the cow a few meters away. According to witnesses, the animal had its scull fractured and its side was gashed open. It was dying and "crying of pain" as I was told. Cortes asked the Minister's security guys to shoot the suffering cow which would die anyway but none of them were willing to do it. And just then the "cow incident" happened. The minister stood together with the head of government security and soldiers, all of them armed, with belts on their hips and holsters with guns hanging from these belts. According to my source, Cortes stepped forward, took the gun from the security head's holster, whirled around and shot the cow. It died on the spot, the whole thing took just a couple of seconds, and it seems that only then everyone around realized what happened and the security guys pointed their guns at Cortes. (..) "
(if you want to read the whole interview, click here)
So we now know where BC is going to spend his New Year's Eve - in Lubumbashi prison. Probably, he will not be released before March - April 2011.
Well, one must admit that Barthe Cortes will have a spectacular end of a year...