A Lubumbashi tribunal on September 29, 2017, sentenced Jean Pierre Tshibitshabu, a reporter for the independent broadcaster Radio Television KADEKAS, to eight months in prison, the journalist’s lawyer, David Ilunga Sheria, told CPJ.
Congolese security forces arrested Tshibitshabu on July 31, 2017, while he was covering protests calling for elections, according to Ilunga and the Congolese press freedom advocacy organization Journalistes en Danger.
Tshibitshabu, who was arrested alongside four activists, has been charged with “incitement and provocation,” Ilunga told CPJ.
The lawyer told CPJ that when he was leaving Kasapa Central Prison after visiting the journalist on August 18, 2017, he witnessed prison inmates repeatedly slap and hit Tshibitshabu, and said that the prison guards did not intervene. The journalist sustained cuts and bruises but has since recovered, Ilunga said.
According to U.N.-affiliated Radio Okapie, Tshibitshabu was assaulted because of his profession.
Justin Kutule, the director of Kasapa prison, did not answer CPJ’s repeated phone calls.
On the day of his arrest, police confiscated Tshibitshabu’s phone and seized about 30,000 Congolese francs (US$19) as well as US$20 in cash, Ilunga told CPJ, adding that the Tshibitshabu planned to file a complaint against the security forces.
Tshibitshabu was sentenced to eight months in prison during his court appearance on September 29, 2017. He appeared in court to appeal on October 13 and 27, 2017. After a third delay of verdict on November 3, an appeal court reduced Tshibitshabu’s sentence from eight months to five months, including time served, Ilunga told CPJ.
When CPJ contacted the Lubumbashi police in August 2017, a person who identified himself only as Major Paul refused to comment.
The national security service in Lubumbashi did not answer CPJ’s repeated calls on October 3 and November 1, 2017.