DR Congo President’s Chief of Staff Bags 20-Year Jail Term For Corruption

Vital Kamerhe

The arm of justice has inscribed its impartial claws on the crust of Democratic Republic of Congo as the country’s high court established the rays of corruption in a top presidential aide after he was convicted for embezzling public funds and sentenced him to 20 years in jail.

Vital Kamerhe, 61, who is the chief of staff to President Felix Tshisekedi’s was found guilty of “diverting public funds worth 48.8m dollars” alongside his co-defendant, Jammal Smih, a 79-year-old Lebanese businessman, the court disclosed on Saturday.

The court through her presiding judge, Pierrot Bankenge Mvita noted the offence of embezzlement of public funds relating to the amount of $48,831,148.

According to reports, Kamerhe, appeared at the three-hour outdoor court hearing in a blue and yellow prison jacket as he shield himself with a mask as parts of the containment measure of the novel COVID-19.

It goes that the chief of staff happened to be the most senior politician to face corruption charges in the country, where high-level corruption is endemic.

However, Kamerhe had denied embezzling funds earmarked for social housing under Tshisekedi’s flagship 100-day building programme.

Hirtherto, Kamerhe supported the President in his successful 2018 election campaign in return for Tshisekedi’s support the next time around in 2023.

However, Kamerhe arrest on April 8 sent a powerful message across the country’s governing coalition and the nation at large.

Furthermore, Kamerhe’s supporters claimed that the case is politically motivated, and it was aimed at hindering his chances of challenging the current president, Tshisekedi, at the next election in coming years.

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At the inception of June, the justice minister claimed that the former presiding judge, who was originally said to have died of a heart attack last month, was actually murdered.

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