JANUARY 5, 2005
Posted: January 27, 2005

Deo Mulima Kampuku, La Référence Plus
Mulima, a reporter with
the independent Congolese daily La Référence Plus, was sentenced in absentia to four months in jail for criminal defamation on January 5, according to local press freedom group Journaliste en Danger (JED) and sources at the newspaper.

Mulima went into hiding after the charge was brought by Guillaume Bolenga, head of the management committee of Cobil Oil in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The journalist was also ordered to pay a fine equivalent to about $140, according to JED.

A court in Kinshasa handed down the sentence in connection with Mulima’s December 21 article in La Référence Plus. The article accused Cobil Oil of misusing public funds and said that Bolenga held two incompatible positions—the other as principal private secretary to former Energy Minister Kalema Losona.

Losona was suspended in November following a parliamentary inquiry that accused him of corruption.

La Référence Plus, which was also ordered to pay a symbolic fine of less than $1 to Bolenga, appealed the verdict of behalf of itself and its reporter.