Congolese singing sensation PAPA WEMBA appeared in a Paris, France court today (25OCT04) to face charges of aiding illegal immigration.

The 55-year-old singer, dubbed the "king of rumba rock" in Africa, is alleged to have received payment for obtaining visas for Congolese nationals entering France, who claimed to be his road crew members.

Papa Wemba, whose real name is JULES SHUNGU WEMBADIO PENE KIKUMBA, was arrested in Paris in February 2003. He also faces similar charges in neighbouring Belgium, where he holds citizenship.

French authorities claim would-be immigrant paid the singer $4,500 (GBP2,500) and in return Papa Wemba told Kinshasa's French embassy they were his employees.

In 2000, Papa Wemba's actions raised suspicions amongst immigration officers when 200 Congolese claimed to be part of his musical entourage, despite many arriving in France without instruments.

Papa Wemba claims he accepted the money due to humanitarian concern.

The PAULINE hitmaker faces up to ten years in jail and a $1 million (GBP555,000) fine if found guilty.

25/10/2004 17:18