DRC: Account of the Numerous Events Preceding the Release of Journalist Stanis Bujakera

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Stanis Bujakera

Stanis Bujakera was finally released from prison late Tuesday night, March 19th, after a series of twists and turns that captivated the entire city of Kinshasa. Sentenced on Monday, March 18th, to six months in prison for “counterfeiting,” “forgery,” and “spreading false news,” the Congolese journalist was supposed to be released immediately for having already served his sentence. However, things did not go as planned. Let’s revisit this eventful evening.

“A deep despair followed by immense relief.” That’s how one of Stanis Bujakera’s colleagues, who was at the center of this long Tuesday, describes the emotions they experienced.

Everything was going smoothly until around 4:00 PM local time in Kinshasa. “We were at Makala prison where Stanis was already engaged in the release process,” he explains, adding that “the fine equivalent to $400 and the court costs of $545 had already been paid when we were told that the prosecutor had just filed an appeal,” which suspends the execution of the court’s decision.

It was a shock. The journalist was returned to his cell, and his friends were forced to leave without Stanis Bujakera, around 6:00 PM.

Prosecutor’s appeal withdrawn

The final dramatic twist occurred shortly after 10:00 PM. Everything seemed lost, but then another turn of events: Stanis’s colleague receives a late call “from the prison administration” instructing him to come and pick up his friend immediately from Makala prison, he recounts. The reason given: “The prosecutor has withdrawn his appeal.”

What happened? Why did the prosecutor decide to backtrack? Did he go to the registry office to withdraw his appeal at night? For now, many questions remain unanswered, although some are starting to suggest political pressure.

At the Congolese presidency, there is a refusal to comment, although they express being “satisfied with this conclusion, as this matter had gone on for too long.” Both parties have ten days to file an appeal.

Stanis Bujakera, the correspondent for Jeune Afrique and Reuters in Kinshasa, who also works for the Congolese media outlet actualité.cd, was arrested on September 8th following an unsigned article in Jeune Afrique implicating military intelligence in the death of an opposition figure, Chérubin Okende. He has already served a six-month prison sentence.

Soukaina Sghir

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