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French court clears Koffi Olomide of sexually assaulting former dancers

Congolese Rhumba star Koffi Olomide   -  
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Democratic Republic Of Congo

Koffi Olomidé, star of the Congolese rumba, was released Monday in appeal of the charges of sexual assault on four of his ex-dancers, but sentenced to 18 months imprisonment with probation of three years for having 'sequestered' them during his tours in France.

The acquittal on the sexual assaults is "pronounced with the benefit of the doubt", explained the president of the 7th correctional chamber of the court of appeal of Versailles, evoking in particular "evolving declarations, sometimes contradictory" of the plaintiffs.

On the other hand, the sequestration is "established without any doubt", with complainants "deprived of any freedom and supervised in a constant way" by two accomplices of Koffi Olomidé between 2002 and 2006 in a house of Parisian suburb, where had been installed locks on shutters.

The two Congolese guards, Mbila Kakese, 45, and Ogima Tsasa Nduka, 49, were both sentenced to six months' imprisonment with a three-year probationary period for complicity in the crime of kidnapping.

By retaining only the sequestration, the court of appeal recalls "the absence of evidence" and pronounces "an important release for the essential of the charges", was pleased with the AFP Antoine Vey, who defends the star at the sides of Emmanuel Marsigny.

Mr. Olomide "can now turn the page of this case that pursued him for years," he added. The latter, present at his trial in October but absent from the deliberation, had blasted "lies", "concerted accounts", a "plot" to "break (his) career".

- "The president" -

For their part, the complainants "will necessarily be disappointed on the offense of sexual abuse, since it was for them the most important thing," said after the deliberation Me David Desgranges, who represents three of the dancers.

"On the other hand, the sequestration was retained", contrary to the judgment in first instance, "which is a satisfaction" because the damages are consequent, according to the lawyer who does not envisage an appeal in cassation.

Koffi Olomidé and his two accomplices must now pay from 10,000 to 32,000 euros in damages for each dancer.

The four Congolese women, who filed a complaint between 2007 and 2013, accused Koffi Olomidé of having locked them in a pavilion in the Paris suburbs and forcing them to have sex with him, on a regular basis for some.

"It happened in hotels, sometimes in the car (...) in recording studios," testified one of them in tears during the trial.

Since then, none of them has returned to the Congo, confiding in the bar "their fear" of the consequences in front of an international star whom they nicknamed "the president" before the affair. One of them had also declared that she had made at least one suicide attempt.

The judgment rendered Monday by the court is far from the expectations of the public prosecutor, who had requested eight years in prison against the 65-year-old Franco-Congolese. He asked to return on "the wreckage" of the first judgment and to recognize guilty this "powerful man", international star who now lives in France.

In the first instance, in 2019, the court of Nanterre had sentenced him to two years in prison suspended for

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