DR Congo Reporter Gets 6 Months Over Military Intelligence Story

A prominent Democratic Republic of the Congo journalist was sentenced to six months in prison on Monday for allegedly exposing military intelligence in the murder of an opposition politician.

Stanis Bujakera, 33, has been imprisoned since September over an article in Jeune Afrique magazine that claimed Congolese military intelligence operatives killed opposition lawmaker Cherubin Okende the month before.

The story, which was unsigned, was based on a claimed confidential memo from another intelligence organization. Congolese authorities have stated that the memo is a forgery.

A Kinshasa court found Bujakera guilty of forgery and “spreading false rumours” and sentenced him to six months in prison and a fine of one million Congolese francs ($400). Prosecutors requested that Bujakera be imprisoned for 20 years.

His arrest came after a Jeune Afrique article published in late August that claimed Congolese military intelligence had assassinated Okende the month before.

Okende, a former minister and spokesman for the opposition party Ensemble Pour la Republique (“United for the Republic”), disappeared on July 12 of last year. His bullet-riddled body was discovered in his automobile in Kinshasa the next day.

On February 29, the prosecutor’s office said that an autopsy revealed Okende had committed suicide, which his party dubbed a “refusal of justice”.

The trial took place against the backdrop of escalating political tensions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo ahead of the presidential and legislative elections last December.

President Felix Tshisekedi won a second five-year term with a landslide victory in an election that the opposition called a fraud.

Written by PH

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