Congo court sentences journalist Stanis Bujakera to six months in jail

By Thomson Reuters Mar 18, 2024 | 1:58 PM

KINSHASA (Reuters) – A court in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday found Congolese journalist Stanis Bujakera guilty of spreading false information among other charges, and sentenced him to six months in prison, his lawyer said.

“The judges found our client guilty of all charges as established. They have imposed the most severe sentence of 6 months, plus the payment of a fine of 1 million Congolese francs ($364),” Bujakera’s lawyer, Jean-Marie Kabengela, told journalists.

He added that Bujakera, who works for international media outlets including Jeune Afrique and Reuters, is expected to leave the prison where he has been detained since last September on Tuesday because he has already served the time.

The lawyer said that, in line with routine procedures in such cases, the legal team representing Bujakera would return to the court on Tuesday, get a copy of the ruling and pay the fine to the prison in order for him to be released.

Bujakera, who has denied all the charges, was arrested in the capital Kinshasa on suspicion of spreading false information about the killing of a prominent opposition politician in an article published by Jeune Afrique, the French news magazine has said.

A prosecutor in the case earlier this month had asked the court in Kinshasa to sentence Bujakera to 20 years in prison.

Local and international rights groups including Reporters Without Borders and Amnesty International had condemned Bujakera’s detention, calling it an attack on press freedom. Reuters has also called for his release.

($1 = 2,750.0000 Congolese francs)

(Writing by Bate Felix, editing by Silvia Aloisi and Chizu Nomiyama)