Court in the Republic of Congo has sentenced an opposition leader to two years in prison. Paulin Makaya said he will appeal, while Amnesty calls him a prisoner of conscience.
Kongo-Brazzaville Denis Sassou N’Guesso Staatspräsident
The High Court of Brazzaville on Monday sentenced Makaya to four counts including incitement to disturb public order and fomenting insurrection.
Makaya – who returned to Congo in late 2014 after 17 years in exile – was arrested after taking part in a protest on October 20 calling for a boycott of the October 25 referendum that would allow the country’s longtime president to seek another term in office.
President Denis Sassou N’Guesso (pictured above), in power for more than 30 years, was re-elected in March after the referendum outcome entitled him to run again.
Yvon Eric Ibouanga, the lawyer for United Party for Congo (UPC) head Makaya – who has already been detained for eight months following his arrest – said on Monday the sentence, which includes a $4,000 (3,600-euro) fine, was “unjust.”
“The judgment brought by the correctional chamber is unjust and illegal,” Ibouanga said.
One UPC member, Destin Sikoula, said Makaya had been convicted “just to make the government happy.”
Amnesty International says the sentence shows that freedom of expression is restricted in the Republic of Congo and called for Makaya’s immediate and unconditional release.
Reuters, AP, AFP