Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) in a letter to Bruno Tshibala, Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has expressed concern over the imprisonment of journalist Tharcisse Zongia, at the Makala Central Prison in Kinshasa, after his conviction for “damaging accusations” against a Congolese sports leader.
PPF Secretary General Owais Aslam Ali in his letter has called upon the authorities to immediately release Tharcisse Zongia and drop all charges against him.
According to Journaliste en Danger (JED), on September 6, 2018, police officers detained Tharcisse Zongia, director of Le Grognon, Kinshasa-based satirical newspaper from the High Court of Kinshasa/Kalamu where he was present in response to a second complaint against him by Mr. Barthelemy Okito, Secretary General at the Congo Ministry of Sports and Recreation.
The High Court of Kinshasa/ Kalamu has sentenced Zongia to 12 months of first and second degree detention. He was penalized for publishing an article in 2015 titled “The little black secrets of the CAN 2015: Barthelemy Okito, a predator to put out of harm’s way.”
This is the second time that Mr. Okito has taken Zongia to court. He was now in court regarding another article titled “Magouille elected domicile in the Congolese sport”, published in his newspaper on May 7, 2018. In this article the journalist challenged the arrest of a group of Congolese footballers as a fraud and mentioned the Attorney General of the Republic of Congo and Barthelemy Okito.
The journalist was taken to the Central Prison of Makala after being arrested.
According to the JED Zongia was sentenced for the first story without getting a chance to present his defense. JED “deplores the cavalier procedure that led to the journalist’s arrest and prolonged detention,” the organization added.