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Journalist sentenced to three months in prison, heavy fines in defamation case

(JED/IFEX) - On 26 February 2007, the Kalamu Peace Court in the city of Boma, in Bas-Congo province sentenced Popol Ntula Vita, a reporter with the Kinshasa-based weekly "La Cite Africaine", to three months in prison without parole and a fine of US$6,450 in damages.

The journalist was prosecuted for "defamation and damaging allegations" against Thomas Ndombasi, the local head of the public tax office (Direction générale des Impôts, DGI), and three of his colleagues. In a 6 January 2007 article entitled "Alert at the Boma Tax Centre", the journalist accused Ndombasi and his three colleagues of misappropriating funds from the issuing of vehicle licence plates.

The journalist contended, among other things, that the licence plates were over-priced and the price difference was pocketed by the above-mentioned individuals.

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