Papa Wemba trial verdict due November

28th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Oct 28 (AFP) - The verdict in the trial of flamboyant African singer Papa Wemba, accused of running an illegal immigration scam, will be delivered on November 16, a judge hearing the matter in a Paris suburb said Thursday following final arguments.

PARIS, Oct 28 (AFP) - The verdict in the trial of flamboyant African singer Papa Wemba, accused of running an illegal immigration scam, will be delivered on November 16, a judge hearing the matter in a Paris suburb said Thursday following final arguments.

Prosecutors have demanded Wemba, 55, be jailed for five years for obtaining French visas for some 150 Congolese by fraudulently claiming they were band members or road crew.

He allegedly took between USD 3,500 to 5,000 dollars (EUR 2,700 to 4,000) from each of the immigrants between December 2001 and February 2003, when he was arrested in his home near Paris.

The musician - born Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo - faces similar charges in Belgium, where he holds citizenship.

Wemba admitted during the trial, which started Monday, to illegally bringing in seven of the Congolese, but said visas for the others were arranged by "several people who took advantage of my name".

Eight other people, including Wemba's wife and managers in his music company, face similar charges alongside him.

Wemba faces a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison and a EUR 750,000 (USD 1 million) fine.

The African singer, dubbed the King of Rhumba Rock, gained a worldwide following from the 1970s and his music - inspired by Cuban rhythms played with electronic instruments - has taken off across sub-Saharan Africa and among African immigrants everywhere.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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