Defence lawyers appeal for release of Biselele

On 18 May 2023 at 10:06

Defence lawyers representing Fortunat Biselele, former private advisor to the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Felix Tshisekedi, have filed an appeal for his provisional release on health grounds. Biselele has been detained at Makala prison in Kinshasa since 21st January 2023 on charges of ’treason’.

According to AFP, Biselele’s lawyer, Richard Bondo, addressed journalists on Tuesday and expressed concern about Biselele’s deteriorating health due to a "tear" in his right arm. Bondo stated that Biselele is accused of treason, an offense punishable by death, for allegedly colluding with Rwanda’s intelligence.

Biselele is scheduled to appear before the High Court of Kinshasa Gombe on May 19 to face accusations of treason related to his alleged connections with Rwanda. The charges against him stem from an interview in which he discussed economic cooperation between President Tshisekedi and Rwanda’s President Kagame.

At the beginning of Tshisekedi’s term in 2019, relations between the DRC and Rwanda seemed to be normalizing. However, these relations have deteriorated following the resurgence of the March 23 Movement (M23) in late 2021 when M23 took up arms against the Congolese Army (FARDC).

DRC has been accusing Rwanda of supporting the rebels, while Rwanda has consistently denied these allegations and instead blamed the DRC for collaborating with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a terrorist group formed by individuals responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Bondo claimed that Biselele was removed from a military hospital on May 13 by order of the Minister of Justice, just a few days after being admitted. Bondo argued that their client is a political prisoner and called for the intervention of the head of state.

"We request the President of the Republic, who has the power to regulate matters concerning the prison regime of detainees, to make a decision for the release of our client to receive medical treatment," Bondo stated. "Our intention is not to influence the decision of the judiciary, but to ensure the respect of his rights."

This case highlights the current state of Congolese justice and the urgent need for the separation of powers and the protection of detainees’ rights.

Biselele has been incarcerated since January over alleged 'treason'.