File photo taken on July 13, 2006 shows Congolese Human rights association president Floribert Chebeya Bahizire giving an intervew to a German magazine at the Grand Hotel in Kinshasa.

Paris -

Congolese President Joseph Kabila personally ordered the assassination of rights activist Floribert Chebeya in 2010, a fugitive police officer who says he witnessed the murder told French radio on Wednesday.

Paul Mwilambwe, who was in charge of security for the premises where Chebeya was killed in June 2010, said he saw the activist's assassination on a surveillance camera.

Speaking from an undisclosed location in Africa, the policeman told Radio France Internationale that he had brought up the murder with a supervisor.

“I received the order from the president of the republic via General John Numbi,” Mwilambe said, quoting the answer his boss gave him.

Mwilambwe went on the run soon after Chebeya's death. He was among four officers who, along with a police colonel, were convicted in the killing. Mwilambwe was sentenced to death in absentia.

Mwilambwe told RFI he saw Chebeya on the surveillance camera being suffocated by police officers with a plastic bag and tape.

Numbi was a major power broker in the Democratic Republic of Congo and had been involved in several rounds of negotiations with Rwanda. He was only suspended following the murder.

Chebeya was a respected human rights activist who was found dead in his car on June 2, 2010.

The founder of the Voice of the Voiceless rights group is thought to have gone with his driver to a police HQ in Kinshasa for a meeting with Numbi, who has denied ever summoning Chebeya.

The driver was never found.

Mwilambe said the presidential instructions on the fateful day also specified that “whoever might accompany Chebeya, be it his son, his colleague or his wife, should be given the same treatment as Chebeya.”

The murder sparked an international outcry and an investigation was launched, resulting in the sentencing to death in June 2011 of the deputy head of special police services, Colonel Daniel Mukalay.

Three fugitive police officers, including Mwilambwe, received the same sentence in absentia, another was sentenced to life imprisonment and three more were acquitted.

A retrial began in June this year and the next hearing is scheduled to take place on October 23. The plaintiffs argue Numbi should be the chief suspect in Chebeya's death and have demanded he be investigated afresh. - Sapa-AFP