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Appeals court upholds 30-year prison sentence for Congo opposition figure

Republic of the Congo

An appeals court in the Republic of Congo’s commercial capital Pointe-Noire, has upheld a 30-year prison term handed a prominent opposition figure, Modeste Boukadia, with hard labour.

The court upheld the ruling after an 11-hour debate by the defence and public prosecutor on the procedural merits of the case.

Defence lawyer Iréné Malonga likened the sentence handed Boukadia to the fate of persons who oppose the ruling PCT party.

“The PCT is the governing party”, he said. “Once you’re against the PCT’s views … this is your punishment”, Malonga argued.

“We cannot develop the country at this pace,” he further argued.

Boukadia, 63, who is the leader of the Congolese Circle of Democrats and Republicans was sentenced in absentia in 2014 by the criminal chamber of the Court of Appeal in Pointe Noire for his participation in planning a peaceful demonstration.

Rights group, Amnesty International, in January started a campaign to get medical treatment for the opposition figure whom at the time the group said had been hospitalized “for the third time as a result of injuries he sustained during a severe beating by prison guards on 15 November 2016 while in prison.”

Boukadia’s family has meanwhile expressed concern over his health which is said to have deteriorated in recent weeks.

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