Gildas Yihundimpundu is now free

Gildas Yihundimpundu, a BBC correspondent in Burundi arrested on Sunday morning 23 October with an American journalist Julia Steers has just been released. Prime Ndikumagenge, BBC representative in Burundi confirms the information.

Gildas Yindimpundu along with American journalist Julia Steers

Gildas Yindimpundu along with American journalist Julia Steers

They were arrested and their equipment was seized, on 23 October around 8 am, while they were reporting on the uninhabited houses in Mutakura area, Cibitoke zone, Ntahangwa Municipality in the north of Bujumbura.

The spokesman of the police Pierre Nkurikiye said that after more than 4 hours of interrogation on the scene, Julia Steers was delivered to the US embassy while the Burundian journalist and their taxi driver were taken to the National Intelligence Service for thorough investigations. Nkurikiye said they were accused of attempting to destroy evidence of the crimes committed by insurgents.

“Based on Article 5 of the Burundi press law, any journalist working on the Burundian territory must register in the National Council of Communication-CNC to receive the card of the Burundian Press. CNC considers that any non-registered journalist has abandoned his profession as a journalist, “replied Gabriel Bihumugani, spokesman of CNC.

For him, Gildas doesn’t have the right to work on the Burundian territory since CNC does not recognize him.
On October 7, Fidelité Ishatse, correspondent of Voice of America was arrested at Bukemba, in Rutana Province in southern Burundi. She was released after four hours of interrogation by the prosecutor of Rutana and intelligence agents.

For this, the CNC spokesman, the journalist was arrested because she was together with a “Iteka” microfinance director initiated by Marquerite Barankitse who is prosecuted by the Burundian justice. “The journalist was directly released because she was in order even though she was working with a suspected person,” says Bihumugani. He advises journalists to inform local officials when they go to report in the field for their safety.