The Court of Cassation “suspends ruling on this case and (returns the case to) the Constitutional Court”, according to a judgment delivered on Friday. Now a senator, Augustin Matata Ponyo was Prime Minister from 2012 to 2016 under Joseph Kabila.
In November 2020, the General Inspectorate of Finance (IGF) of the DRC concluded in a report that 205 millions $285 million disbursed by the Treasury for the Bukanga-Lonzo agro-industrial park, a pilot project 250 kilometers southeast of the capital, had been misappropriated. The former Prime Minister was specifically implicated, as the “intellectual author” of the hijacking, which he disputes.
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His first trial for embezzlement opened in May 2021 before the Constitutional Court. In November the same year, this Court which judges in first and last resort, had considered that it did not have jurisdiction to judge a former Prime Minister, cutting short the proceedings against him.
In the DRC, the Constitutional Court is the criminal judge of the President of the Republic and of the Premier minister in office. The former Prime Minister is being prosecuted alongside Patrice Kitebi, former Minister Delegate for Finance at the time of the events, and a South African, Grobler Christo, manager of a South African company. The second trial opened at the end of June before the Court of Cassation, where the first three hearings were limited to identifying the three defendants and their lawyers.
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In May, Augustin Matata Ponyo announced his presidential candidacy scheduled for the end of 2023, for which the current head of state, Félix Tshisekedi, has already declared himself a candidate. A few weeks later, he was summoned for the same case before the Court of Cassation, competent to judge in particular them parliamentarians.