Congo-Kinshasa: Court Jails Former Presidential Aide Over Graft

President Felix Antoine Tshisekedi.

Kinshasa — President Felix Tshisekedi's former Chief of Staff has been jailed for 20 years with hard labour over corruption.

Mr Vital Kamerhe was found guilty of diverting public funds in a national housing project which the government launched last year.

The court said he will be sent to forced labour for 20 years and he would endure another 10 years of being ineligible to serve in government.

Mr Kamerhe had been accused of embezzling public funds allocated for the erection of prefabricated houses intended for soldiers and police.

The court also convicted Lebanese businessman Samih Jammal for embezzlement, corruption and money laundering. His company was responsible for building 4,500 houses.

Although several observers were critical of the court case, arguing that there was insufficient evidence against Mr Kamerhe, the judge said there had indeed been "criminal intention" on his part and the businessman to divert some $48 million from the housing project.

However, Mr Kamerhe's lawyers said they would challenge the judge's decision.

"This judge did not deliver justice. Our client was convicted on the basis of elements not discussed at the hearings," they said on Saturday in Kinshasa. "[The] judge did not prove how Vital Kamerhe embezzled the money."

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