Convicted of money laundering and tax-dodging Tanzanian journalist Erick Kabendera had been freed from seven-months detention and ordered to pay US$43,000 fine in a case that provoked public concern worldwide. On Tuesday, he pleaded guilty to all economic crimes charges laid against him.
Kabendera, a journalist working with local and international press outlets, had been taken into custody allegedly to be questioned over his citizenship before the charges were upgraded to sedition.
However, in August 2019 the investigation stalled and the prosecution put forward new charges against Kabendera including tax avoidance, money laundering, and organised crime.
When his detention came to the light the public reacted strongly provoking outrage and indignation. Rights activists groups called for the immediate release of Kabendera warning that ‘the case reflected worsening press freedoms under President John Magufuli, who came to power in 2015.’
After plea bargaining the count of organised crime was dropped, and Kabendera pleaded guilty to counts of money laundering and failure to pay 173 million shillings (US$74 000) in taxes.
Kabendera was freed after paying a 250 000 shilling (approx. US$108) fine for failing to pay taxes, but has to pay another 100 million shillings (approx. US$43,476) in fines for money laundering.