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Congolese opposition party leader sentenced to two years in prison

Congolese opposition party leader sentenced to two years in prison

Republic of the Congo

Leader of a small Congolese political party, Paulin Makaya has been sentenced to two years in prison on Monday for inciting public disorder.

The Brazzaville High Court found the United for the Congo (UPC) party leader guilty of organizing and participating in an unauthorized demonstration against the constitutional referendum in October 2015.

“The court finds Paulin Makaya is guilty of the offense he is charged for and condemned him to twenty-four months imprisonment and a fine of 2.5 million CFA francs (3,810 euros),” the President the Criminal chamber at the high court of Brazzaville, Valerian Endenga, pronounced.

His lawyers immediately rejected the verdict, calling the trial unfair and illegal. “We will appeal in accordance with the Criminal Code Procedure and the case will be forwarded to the appellate court for retrial,” his lawyer Yvon Eric Ibouanga told AFP.

Congolese prosecution earlier in June requested for a five-year prison sentence including a 5 million CFA francs (USD 8,428) fine.

Makaya, who has been in prison since November 2015, is considered a political prisoner by several human rights organizations.

In February, Amnesty International called for his immediate release. In May, the French branch of ACAT (Action by Christians Against Torture) had made a similar appeal, saying that Mr. Makaya was in “illegal detention.”

Makaya was the closest collaborator Bernard Kolelas, the founding president of Congolese Movement for Democracy and Integral Development (MCDDI) party in 1991. Following the coup that brought president Denis Sassou Nguesso to power in October 1997, he went into exile in London, where he will stayed for 14 years before returning to Brazzaville on July 30, 2014.