PARIS: Koffi Olomidé, one of Africa’s most popular singers, has been found guilty of the statutory rape of one of his former dancers when she was 15. He was handed a two-year suspended jail sentence by a court in France in absentia, as he failed to turn up.
The ruling means the Congolese star only faces arrest if he commits further offenses, says the BBC’s Nadir Djennad. Olomidé, 62, was ordered to pay 5,000 euros ($5,700; £4,300) in damages to the former dancer.
The court in Nanterre, outside Paris, also ordered him to pay a fine of the same amount for helping three women enter France illegally.
Olomidé’s lawyer has hailed the ruling as a victory, telling journalists it would result in the withdrawal of the star’s international arrest warrant.
Koffi Olomidé is a huge star of rumba and soukous which are popular across much of Africa.
Olomidé was first charged in 2012 with aggravated rape but the charges were reduced.
Four dancers who used to work for the musician told the court that he sexually assaulted them multiple times between 2002 and 2006. They said the assaults happened in the Democratic Republic of Congo and France.
The women further alleged they were held captive in a villa outside Paris and escaped one night in June 2006, but did not return home to DR Congo for fear of reprisal.
Prosecutors had been pushing for a seven-year sentence but the court dismissed the assault and kidnapping charges.
Olomidé fled to DR Congo in 2009 promising to defend himself but failed to appear for the trial in France which, at the women’s request, was held behind closed doors in a Paris court.
The singer, whose real name is, Antoine Agbepa Mumba, has been in trouble with the law several times before:
- In 2018 Zambia ordered his arrest after he allegedly assaulted a photographer
- In 2016 he was arrested and deported after he assaulted one of his dancers in Kenya
- In 2012 he was convicted in DR Congo of assaulting his producer and received a three-month suspended prison sentence.
In 2008 he was accused of kicking a cameraman from DR Congo’s private RTGA television station and breaking his camera at a concert, but the two later were later reconciled