Vital Kamerhe, chief of staff at Tshisekedi, sentenced to “20 years of forced labor”

Vital Kamerhe, Chief of Staff of the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, was sentenced on Saturday to “20 years of forced labor” after an unsurpassed trial against corruption.

During an unprecedented anti-corruption trial in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Saturday, June 20, Vital Kamerhe, an ally and chief of staff of President Félix Tshisekedi, was sentenced to a capital punishment of 20 imposed labor. “

“We will appeal,” one of his lawyers, Jean-Marie Kabengela, told AFP.

The 61-year-old ex-president of the National Assembly was found guilty of “devastating public funds totaling $ 48,831 million.” These funds would be used to build prefabricated social housing as well as military housing. “To this sum must be added two million dollars that must pay for customs clearance for the delivery of these houses,” adds Clément Bonnerot, France, 24 correspondent in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Vital Kamerhe was also convicted of corruption with his main co-defendant, the Lebanese entrepreneur Jammal Samih, 79.

“Unconstitutional”?

The court delivered its verdict despite a recovery that occurred on Friday.

The Constitutional Court had asked the court to transfer the file to it in the “State” and “in all cases which are suspending cases, taking into account it” subject to the objection of constitutionality “.

This “exception” was raised by the defense of Vital Kamerhe at the last hearing on June 11, the day of the closing argument and the oral argument.

His lawyers believe that the penalty for “forced labor” required by the prosecution – and included in the sentence – is prohibited by the Constitution, even though it is contained in the Penal Code. The court said it could not forward the file.

First, conviction of a motionless

It is the first time that an immobile Congolese political life has been tried and convicted of corruption.

In a first reaction, the Congolese anti-corruption collective Unis welcomed “a blast of the rule of law” and regretted that “other major players in this case” were not worried, including a commercial bank.

Vital Kamerhe was Félix Tshisekedi’s main ally during his victory in the December 30, 2018 presidential election.

Even a candidate, Vital Kamerhe had withdrawn in favor of Félix Tshisekedi. The two men had reached a political agreement that Vital Kamerhe would be a candidate at the next elections in 2023.

With AFP