Patrice Booto, the editor of the tri-weekly Le Journal and its supplement Pool Malebo, was sentenced today to six months in prison and a fine of 500 dollars that must be paid within a week or his prison term will be extended by three months.
The sentence was passed by a lower court in Assossa after it found him guilty of insulting the president and government. He was retried by this court following the dissolution of the state security court.
Booto, who admitted to publishing false information, has been held for more than six months in a Kinshasa prison.
12-05-2006 Courts find a way out of judicial limbo for imprisoned editor
Reporters Without Borders welcomes the decision by the Congolese courts allowing a way out of judicial limbo for Patrice Booto, editor of the tri-weekly Le Journal and its supplement Pool Malebo, transferring his case to the peace tribunal in Kinshasa/Assesso, so that he can appear shortly. The first hearing is set for 22 May 2006.
Booto has been in jail since 2 November 2005, on charges of “spreading false rumours in public”, “insulting the head of state” and “contempt of government”.
He has been held at the Penitentiary and Re-education Centre in Kinshasa (CPRK), after being tried by the State Security Court (CSE) in February 2006. The court adjourned its verdict on 14 February, two days before the special judicial body was dissolved when a new constitution came into effect.
The journalist was therefore left waiting for a verdict from a defunct jurisdiction. At a meeting with Reporters Without Borders and its Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) partner organisation, Journaliste en danger (JED), President Joseph Kabila promised to look into the situation and to find a solution allowing the journalist a fair and equitable trial and verdict.
Booto published an article saying that President Joseph Kabila had offered the Tanzanian education ministry 30 million dollars during a dispute in the DRC between the government and teachers’ trade unions. He has since admitted that the information was wrong.