14 DECEMBER 2021
By Alison Hird With RFI
A court of appeal in France has found Congolese rumba star Koffi Olomidé guilty of holding four of his former dancers against their will, but acquitted him of charges of sexual assault.
Olomidé, who lives in France, was accused by four of his former Congolese dancers of sexually assaulting them and holding them against their will at a villa outside Paris.
The crimes were allegedly committed between 2002 and 2006.
The appeals court in Versailles on Monday acquitted the singer of sexual assault “for the benefit of doubt”. The court’s president referred to the “evolving and sometimes contradictory statements” of the complainants.
However, the fact the women had been sequestrated was “not in doubt”, he said. They had been “deprived of all freedom and constantly watched” by two of Olomidé’s accomplices in a house in Asnières-sur-Seine, northwest of Paris, where locks had been fitted to the shutters.
Olomidé was handed a suspended 18-month jail term, and obliged to keep the peace for three years.
The two Congolese guards, Mbila Kakese and Ogima Tsasa Nduka, were both given six months’ suspended under the same conditions.
The complainants “will necessarily be disappointed about the sexual abuse offence, since this was the most important thing for them,” lawyer David Desgranges said following the verdict.
But he welcomed that the charge of sequestration had been retained, contrary to the initial judgment, and “with considerable interest and damages”.
Olomidé and his two accomplices are required to pay between 10,000 euros and 32,000 euros to each dancer.
The four Congolese women accused Koffi Olomidé and his two accomplices of locking them in the villa near Paris while the singer was touring or recording.
They said that they were forced to have sex with Olomidé, who struck them if they tried to resist.
The singer has always denied the allegations.
Monday’s court ruling fell way short of the prosecution’s demands.
During the trial held in late October, the prosecution had requested an eight-year jail term for the 65-year-old French-Congolese star, and that the previous 2019 court decision be reversed.
In that first instance, the court had sentenced him to a two-year suspended sentence for “sexual assault” on one of the young women, a minor at the time, but had rejected the accusations of the three other women.
Olomidé is a popular singer and no stranger to controversy.
He was briefly jailed in DR Congo in 2016 for kicking one of his dancers, and had already been given a suspended three-month prison sentence in 2012 for striking his producer.
He was kicked out of Kenya in 2016 after striking one of his female dancers at Jomo Kenyatta airport.
He is also sought by Zambian police for striking a Rwandan photojournalist in Lusaka in 2012.
Olomidé had a previous brush with the law in France in 2006 when he was handed a suspended one-year prison sentence for tax fraud.