Congo-Kinshasa: Freed DRC Journalist Says He Was Imprisoned As Warning to Others

Prominent Congolese journalist Stanis Bujakera, released from prison this week after spending six months behind bars, has accused the government of seeking to intimidate journalists looking into the death of an opposition politician.

Bujakera, who is deputy director of the news site and a regular contributor to RFI and international outlets, said that he had been targeted by the state for reporting on the death of Cherubin Okende.

A former minister and spokesman for the opposition party Ensemble pour la République (“Together for the Republic”), Okende disappeared on 12 July last year.

His bullet-riddled body was found in his car in Kinshasa the following day.

Bujakera was arrested in September over a report that appeared in French magazine Jeune Afrique about the possible involvement of the country’s intelligence bureau, based on a leaked confidential memo.

Though the magazine said Bujakera was not the author of the story, he was charged with spreading falsehoods and forging documents and jailed awaiting trial.

He was found guilty earlier this month, and sentenced to time served and a fine of 1 million Congolese francs (around 330 euros). He was finally released on 19 March.

‘Totally fabricated’

Speaking to RFI in his first interview as a free man, Bujakera described the pressure on him to reveal his sources, and the pressure on the judges to convict him.