DRC court jails tribal leader for 'inciting hatred'

2015-09-16 21:07

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Lubumbashi - A court in the Democratic Republic of Congo has sentenced a businessman and tribal leader to three years in prison for "inciting tribal hatred", in what a rights group condemned Wednesday as a political decision.

The leader, Vano Kiboko, is a former member of the majority party considered close to the governor of southeastern Katanga province, Moise Katumbi, who is a possible presidential candidate in elections scheduled for November.

A rights group, Congolese Action for Access to Justice (ACAJ), said Kiboko, had denounced police oppression and opposed any changes to the constitution that would allow controversial President Joseph Kabila a third term in office.

Held in Kinshasa for the last several months, Kiboko was charged in January with "inciting tribal hatred" over comments he made at a press conference some days earlier in the Katangi capital Lubumbashi.

On Monday, the court sentenced him to three years in prison, said a family member who wished to remain anonymous.

The source condemned the court's decision as "political" and the result of "strong government pressure" on the judge.

The rights group ACAJ also termed the ruling "political", and called on the government to "stop manipulating justice to intimidate those who exercise their rights to expression and opinion".

The political climate is tense in the country leading up to the elections. The constitution bars Kabila from seeking another term but opponents fear he will attempt to change the law in an attempt to stay in power.

Read more on:    joseph kabila  |  drc  |  central africa

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