23 June 2016
Congolese presidential aspirant, Moise Katumbi, was Wednesday sentenced to 36 months in prison in absentia after he was found guilty in a recent case of property appropriation..
Responding to the court judgement, Katumbi’s lawyer, Hubert Dumbi said that by trying Katumbi in absentia, failing to call any witnesses and taking a decision in less than 48 hours, “the court has violated the law and not respected procedure,”
The 51-year-old, a former Governor of copper-rich Katanga province, where the court proceedings took place owns one of the biggest football clubs in Africa, TP Mazembe.
The case of property appropriation was brought against Katumbi by a Greek national who accused the TP Mazembe bank-roller of using his position as Governor of Katanga province to take over land belonging to him.
Katumbi was said to have illegally sold the property in Lubumbashi, his power base.
In his defense, Dumbi, Katumbi’s lawyer stated that the crime wasn’t committed by him as he was in exile abroad during that time, in 1998.
He continued that the documents produced were fabricated and had forged signatures to discredit their client.
The local court in Lubumbashi also fined the football tycoon $6m (close to 2 billion in naira) for illegally selling the property, which a Greek citizen claimed belonged to his family.
Katumbi flew out of the country on 20 May, a day after authorities issued an arrest warrant for him on separate charges of hiring foreign mercenaries – allegations he denies.