Pop star on French smuggling charge

One of Africa’s most successful music stars, the Congolese singer, Papa Wemba, is due to appear in court in France charged with aiding illegal immigration, after being arrested in Paris in February last year. Papa Wemba is suspected of having received payment to procure visas for Congolese nationals who entered France claiming to be his road crew members. If he is found guilty, the maximum sentence is 10 years in jail and a fine of 750,000 euros.

According to the French authorities, would-be immigrants from DR Congo paid him 4,500 US dollars in return for which he told the French Embassy in Kinshasa that they were members of his band or road crew. The 55-year-old singer faces similar charges in Belgium, where he holds citizenship.