Charges stayed against 1 of 4 accused in violent kidnapping
Warning: This story contains graphic details some readers may find disturbing
Crown lawyers have asked for charges against one of four women on trial for a violent kidnapping to be stayed after the victim's testimony Wednesday suggested the accused actually helped her escape her attackers.
Crown lawyers had said that on July 3, 2015, three women — Eunice Ilunga, Sandrine Tomba-Kalema and Safi Mahinja — broke into the east-end Ottawa apartment of a 21-year-old woman, assaulted her, kidnapped her and took her to another home where they removed her pubic hair before posting videos of the assaults on social media.
All four accused and the victim, who cannot be named because of a publication ban to protect her identity, are members of Ottawa's Congolese community.
The Crown had previously suggested that at the second location the alleged attackers were aided by a fourth woman, Nina Raul.
But the Crown withdrew all charges against Raul Wednesday after the victim, now 23, told court Raul did not participate in the assault, and in fact aided her escape.
The victim, speaking French, was giving testimony for the second day via closed-circuit television from outside the courtroom.
Given pills, forced onto bed
On Tuesday she told court about how Ilunga, Tomba-Kalema and Mahinja broke into the victim's home and kidnapped her at knifepoint, allegedly in retaliation for her having had a relationship with Ilunga's boyfriend.
She told court Wednesday they brought her to Mahinja's home, where Ilunga phoned Raul and told her to come over.
The woman testified she told the women that her head hurt — on Tuesday she testified Ilunga had hit her in the eye — and that Ilunga and Mahinja gave her two yellow pills. After taking them she said she felt more tired and weak.
The victim said Ilunga then pulled her clothes off of her and pushed her onto a bed before producing hair removal cream and saying she was going to "trim" the victim's pubic hair.
Mahinja and Tomba-Kalema watched as Ilunga applied the cream, but Raul and another woman present were off to the side, the victim testified.
Raul then stepped in to try to wipe off the cream against Ilunga's wishes, the woman testified.
Friends told Ilunga not to post videos online
The woman said videos and photos of the assault were taken, but that at one point Mahinga said to Ilunga, 'You don't have to broadcast this. Do your thing, but don't publish it." She told court that she understood this as a plea not to post the videos and photos on social media.
Tomba-Kalema also told Ilunga she was against broadcasting the photos and videos, and said she'd deleted them from her own cellphone, the woman said.
The victim then told court Raul and the other woman told her they would help her escape. She got dressed and left with them and drove back to her apartment.
When they arrived she said the two women saw how badly vandalized her apartment was and encouraged her to call police. Instead, she called her building security officer.
But she told court she was reluctant to tell him what had really happened because she didn't think she had any proof or evidence, but she said the two women urged her to tell the truth.
Raul to testify as Crown witness
Later, when she discovered videos of the assaults had been posted on social media, she said she was shocked and felt lost.
After the woman's testimony the Crown stayed charges against Raul, and said she would now testify for the Crown.
Raul was facing charges of unlawful confinement, sexual assault and taking intimate images of someone without their consent.
The other three women still face those charges, as well as charges of break and enter, kidnapping with intent to confine, assault, assault with a weapon and sexual assault with a weapon.