Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Africa

$48 Million Embezzlement: Congo Court Sentences President’s Chief of Staff to 20 Years in Prison

KINSHASA (Reuters) – The Democratic Republic of Congo’s high court on Saturday found the president’s chief of staff guilty of embezzling $48 million in public funds and sentenced him to 20 years in jail, the lead judge said.

Vital Kamerhe, once a future presidential hopeful, is the most senior politician convicted of graft in Congo, where high-level corruption is endemic. He now faces 20 years of hard labour.

“The court has established as fact the offence of embezzlement of public funds relating to the amount of $48,831,148,” said presiding judge Pierrot Bankenge Mvita wearing a mask and rubber gloves.

Kamerhe denies stealing money earmarked for social housing under President Felix Tshisekedi’s flagship 100-day building programme, and has dismissed the accusations as political. His lawyer, Jean Marie Kabengela Ilunga, called the verdict a “violation of human rights” and said he would appeal.

Kamerhe, a veteran power broker, appeared at the three-hour outdoor court hearing in a blue and yellow prison jacket and also wore a mask to protect against the new coronavirus.

He backed Tshisekedi in his successful 2018 election campaign in return for Tshisekedi’s support the next time around in 2023. Under the ruling, Kamerhe will not be able to run for president for ten years after his punishment.

His arrest on April 8 sent shock waves through the nation.

Last week the justice minister revealed that the former presiding judge, who was originally said to have died of a heart attack last month, was actually brutally murdered.

Transparency groups and the international community had been pressurising Tshisekedi to fulfil his campaign promise of clamping down on corruption, political analysts say.

“I sincerely think that this is a positive sign for the fight against corruption,” said Florimond Muteba from the Observatory of Public Expenditure, a Congolese transparency group.

____

Follow us on Twitter at @thesignalng

Copyright 2020 SIGNAL. Permission to use portions of this article is granted provided appropriate credits are given to www.signalng.com and other relevant sources. 

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Advertisement

Signal-Tesslo Ad

Related

Africa

About 50 people are feared dead after an artisanal gold mine flooded in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after torrential rain, a provincial...

Africa

The Republic of Congo on Tuesday appealed for help after 150,000 people in the north of the country were hit by rains that flooded...

Africa

Democratic Republic of Congo’s electoral commission on Thursday declared opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi the surprise winner of 30 December presidential election, a result that...

News

GENEVA (Reuters) – The World Health Organization is preparing for the worst case scenario in an Ebola outbreak in a remote area of Congo,...

Copyright ©