A prominent reporter in Democratic Republic of Congo, on trial over an article suggesting spies assassinated an opposition politician, on Friday rejected "imaginary" charges against him, including that he falsified a document.
Stanis Bujakera, who works for Reuters and Jeune Afrique magazine, was detained on September 8 and transferred to prison less than a week later on suspicion of spreading false information.
His trial began on October 13 inside the Makala prison, where he is being held, in the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa.
The second hearing in the trial centred around the "falsification of state seals" and the fabrication of a report.
Bujakera's arrest followed a Jeune Afrique article published in late August, which suggested that Congolese military intelligence had killed opposition politician Cherubin Okende the month before.
The article -- which was not bylined -- was based on an alleged confidential memo from a separate intelligence agency. Congolese authorities and the prosecution have said the memo is a fake.
The public prosecutor's office said it had been demonstrated that the original document, originating from the Telegram messaging service, was "first shared by Stanis Bujakera's WhatsApp number".
"He is the creator, he is the counterfeiter, the imitator, the forger. He is the devil, the demon," the representative of the prosecutor's office said.
"I reject these imaginary accusations," Bujakera said. "As soon as I was arrested, I was asked to give my sources, for an article I did not sign".
"How do you explain that this document could have originated from a Telegram account, while at the same time claiming that I am the author, when I don't have a Telegram account?" he added.
The prosecutor repeatedly said that Jeune Afrique had "received millions of dollars to produce the report," and that "the aim was to smear the Democratic Republic of Congo".
Bujakera's lawyers denounced the accusations and argued that the case was "devoid of evidence".
"Stanis is a professional, rigorous and reliable journalist," said Arnaud Froger head of investigations at Reporters without Borders (RSF), at a press conference in Kinshasa on Thursday.
The trial comes amid rising political tensions in the DRC ahead of a presidential and parliamentary election scheduled for December 20.
Incumbent President Felix Tshisekedi, who came to office in 2019, is running for a second term.
Bujakera's next hearing is scheduled for November 3.