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Burundian journalist still missing after a year without trace

Burundian journalist still missing after a year without trace


It’s exactly a year since the disappearance of Burundian journalist Jean Bigirimana whose whereabouts is still unknown since he was last seen on July 22, 2016.

He had gone out on July 22 to meet a source in Muramvya, a small town, 50 kilometers east of Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura after a phone call.

Some witnesses said they had seen him with members of the National Intelligence Service (SNR), and that was the last time anybody saw him.

Burundian authorities initially said they were holding Bigirimana but then retracted and thereafter said nothing, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) had said.

Public pressure finally forced the authorities to react in August 2016 through police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye who announced that the Muramvya prosecutor’s office had opened an investigation into Bigirimana’s disappearance.

That was the end of the case on the disappearance of the journalist wife, who has never stopped demanding to know the truth, has been the target of repeated threats, RSF said.

“On 23 June, she found a printed message outside her door threatening her and telling her to retract everything she has said about her husband’s disappearance. She took the message to the local police station but the police have taken no steps to protect her or investigate the threats. A few days later, the national police spokesman claimed that he had not been told about the threats,” they media rights body added.

On Friday, RSF called on the Burundian authorities to release findings of the investigations they announced last year.

This is a follow up to last year’s petition to the authorities signed by 11,000 people calling for an investigation.

In August last year, two bodies were found in a river downstream from Muramvya but they were in a condition that made identification difficult. One of the bodies was headless.

Burundi has fallen 15 places in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index since the start of the ongoing political crisis in 2015 and is now ranked 156th out of 180 countries.

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