DR Congo court acquits former presidential aide of treason charges

A a court In the Democratic Republic of Congo acquitted a former presidential adviser on Tuesday who had been charged with treason and supporting armed rebels, according to his lawyer’s statement to media.

Fortunat Biselele, who was apprehended earlier this year and held in custody before being conditionally released on July 22, had also faced allegations of “contact with Rwanda,” as per the charges.

His lawyer, Richard Bondo, said the court in Kinshasa had “completely cleared him”.

The situation escalated when a video emerged showing Biselele discussing the economic connections between President Felix Tshisekedi and Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

The relationship between the two neighboring countries, which seemed to be moving towards improvement when Tshisekedi assumed office in January 2019, has significantly worsened due to the resurgence of the M23 militia in eastern DRC.

The Tutsi-led M23 group has seized large areas of land in North Kivu province. In May, DR Congo alleged that Rwanda was plotting an assault on the regional capital, Goma.

Since the resurgence of M23, over one million individuals have been displaced from their homes.

United Nations experts have supported Kinshasa’s assertion that Rwanda has supplied weapons to the rebels, a claim that Kigali refutes.

The court acquittal for Biselele was “a deserved victory because the case was just a settling of scores and judges are not there to endorse this sort of thing”, Bondo said.

People close to Biselele branded the hearing a political trial.

Amid a tense period leading up to the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for December 20, numerous politicians and security personnel in DR Congo are facing allegations of collaborating with adversaries and have been apprehended.

US-based Human Rights Watch on Tuesday warned of a crackdown on the opposition amid “repression” and “intimidation”.

Tshisekedi is running for a second five-year term.

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