DRC: Vital Kamerhe sentenced to 13 years in prison on appeal

Vital Kamerhe, former Chief of staff to the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), was sentenced last year to 20 years in prison for embezzlement of public funds. The lieutenants of the former Head of the Tshisekedi Administration are up in arms and denounce a political judgment.
The judgment fell like a knife after 7 p.m. at the courthouse and it was the end of the suspense for Vital Kamerhe’s detractors – who were expecting the renewal of his 20-year prison sentence – as well as for his supporters who have been demanding his acquittal for a year. The court ruled: thirteen years in prison.
The ruling was quickly challenged by Jean-Marie Kabengele, Kamerhe’s lawyer. “We do not agree with this decision, our client does not deserve any sentence. We will after consultations with him, know what path to take. ”
The judges remained firm on the tens of millions of dollars in damages to the civil parties, the restitution of more than 50 million dollars embezzled, as well as the seizure of property and funds held in banks for Kamerhe, his wife and his two stepdaughters.
A “bogus” judgment, said Billy Kambale, secretary general of Vital Kamerhe’s party, the UNC. “This judgment is absolutely not opposable to us. It is a political machination that will never pass. This confirms what we said from the beginning, it was a political plot. And individuals instead of managing the Republic spend their time settling accounts with the most representative leader of the Republic. The national political leadership of my party will meet and will raise the options because they must know that the UNC will block their way. ”
As for Samih Jammal, the Lebanese businessman, owner of the companies Samibo Congo and Husmal, who had obtained the contracts for the prefabricated houses by mutual agreement, his sentence was reduced significantly from twenty years to six years of forced labor. Jeannot Muhima, the import and export officer at the presidency, also saw his sentence reduced from three years to one year in prison.
Police dispersed activists who had gathered near UNC headquarters in Kinshasa overnight to protest the ruling. The UNC has remained in coalition with President Felix Tshisekedi despite its leader’s conviction for a year. The party has five members in the current government.

About Geraldine Boechat 1986 Articles
Senior Editor for Medafrica Times and former journalist for Swiss National Television. former NGO team leader in Burundi and Somalia