One of the biggest names in African music has appeared in a French court on charges of people smuggling. Congolese-born Papa Wemba has been accused of aiding the illegal immigration of hundreds of people posing as members of his group. The 55-year-old could face a maximum of ten years in jail. His lawyer said he accepted responsibility for himself but that he would not be acting as a cover for others accused in the case.
Wemba has admitted accepting money from several illegal immigrants but said he did it for humanitarian reasons. French prosecutors say hundreds of people were given visas in the belief that they belonged to his band but they later failed to return to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Seven other people, including producers and members of his group, are being tried by the same court in a suburb of Paris. Wemba holds Belgian citizenship and is facing similar charges there.