Burundi threatens to sue French TV station, Belgian lawyer over “fabricated” report

Controversial Belgian attorney Bernard Maingain.

Controversial Belgian attorney Bernard Maingain.

The President’s office in Burundi has categorically refuted the France 3 television report accusing the country’s security forces and National Intelligence Services of savagely killing three young men opposed to President Pierre Nkurunziza in the North-Eastern Province of Karusi on Tuesday January 12.

In a press statement issued Thursday by Willy Nyamitwe, Media and Communication Advisor in the President’s Office, charged the report content is a pure fabrication.

“The press and information office of Burundi presidency would like to inform that those footages have never been taken in Burundi and that individuals seen in them are not Burundian citizens because of their dialect,” the President’s office statement reads in part.

Nyamitwe said the source of the gruesome footage, Belgian lawyer Bernard Mainguin has been circulating negative reports about Burundi in western media for a long time.

“We would like to remind France 3 and other Western media outlets that continue to spread rumors against Burundi, that Mr. Bernard Maingain, Belgian lawyer, has for several years been engaged in defaming Burundi, together with a group of lawless individuals who have no other purpose than divide the people of Burundi,” the statement adds.

Mr. Maingain reportedly told France 3 station he received the images from reliable sources within the Burundian military and police.

The Belgian attorney also revealed he had sent images to the United Nations headquarters for verification.

Maingain claims Congolese militiamen are training their Burundian counterparts in killing techniques.

Firing back via Twitter, Willy Nyamitwe said the Burundian government plans to file defamation suit against Bernard Maingain and France 3.

Earlier last month graphic images and footages of dozens of  young men murdered execution style with their arms tied behind their backs went viral on social media drawing outrage and condemnation. The government claimed all those killed were “assailants” despite the fact that nearly all were dressed in civilian cloths.

Meanwhile, it has been 8 months since destruction and closure four independent media outlets in Burundi for their alleged role in the attempted coup last year.

Radios Isanganiro, Bonesha, RPA, Radio-televisions Renaissance and Rema FM were attacked and destroyed in the wake of the failed coup as their respective personnel were forced into exile and hiding.

Radio-Television Rema, a station close to the ruling party CNDD-FDD has since been cleared and allowed to reopen, but is yet to function normally.

In his recent end of year address on New Year’s Eve, President Nkurunziza promised allow two other radios to but at the moment they are still banned.