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DR Congo's former health minister cleared of covid funds fraud

DR Congo's former health minister cleared of covid funds fraud
A doctor presents a vial of Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the....   -  
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Democratic Republic Of Congo

A former Minister of Health of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) prosecuted and briefly detained in 2021 for an alleged embezzlement of funds allocated to the fight against Covid-19 was acquitted on Wednesday by Congolese justice, announced his lawyer.

Eteni Longondo, Minister of Health from 2019 to 2021, had been suspected by the General Inspectorate of Finance (IGF) of having embezzled more than 7 million dollars intended for the fight against the pandemic.

Mr. Longondo, who spent around three weeks in pre-trial detention in August-September 2021, has always denied embezzling the money. "He was acquitted today by the Court of Cassation, which concluded that there was no incriminating evidence" Mr. Longondo, his lawyer, Hugues Pulusi Eka, told AFP.

In the DRC, the Court of Cassation is competent to judge in first and last resort acts attributed in particular to members of the government.

Regarding the suspicions that had triggered proceedings against the former minister, Me Pulusi simply noted that "the IGF is an OPJ (judicial police officer), not a judge". "Justice has decided, that's the most important thing," added the lawyer.

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