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Newspaper editor released after serving 10-month sentence for "insulting the head of state"

(JED/IFEX) - Nsimba Embete Ponte, editor of the Kinshasa-based bi-weekly "L'Interprète", was released from prison on 7 January 2009 after serving a 10-month sentence.

Kinshasa's N'Djili court sentenced Ponte to 10 months in jail on 27 November 2008, after he was found guilty of "insulting a head of state". Taking into consideration the time already spent in a national intelligence agency (ANR - Agence Nationale des Renseignements) detention centre and later in a Kinshasa prison, Ponte was freed on 7 January, having served his full sentence.

Ponte was initially charged with "spreading false news", "threatening state security," and "insulting the head of state" in connection with a series of articles questioning the health of President Joseph Kabila. He was found guilty of "insulting the head of state".

Ponte and another "L'Interprète" journalist, Davin Ntondo, were arrested by intelligence officers in Kinshasa on 7 and 29 March 2008, respectively. The two men were taken to a detention centre not far from the prime minister's offices along the Congo River, where they were secretly held for three months. On 6 June, they appeared briefly before a Kinshasa court before being transferred to a Kinshasa's main prison, the CPRK (Centre Pénitentiaire et de Rééducation de Kinshasa).

Updates the Ponte case:

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