DR Congo football chief held in embezzlement probe

Kinshasa (AFP) –


The head of the Democratic Republic of Congo's football association, who also serves at world governing body FIFA, has been taken into custody as part of a probe into embezzlement, an investigating magistrate said Wednesday.

FECOFA president Constant Omari, also vice-president of the African Football Confederation and a member of FIFA's executive committee, has been held along with sports ministry secretary general Barthelemy Okito and two FECOFA vice presidents -- Roger Bondembe and Theobad Binamungu -- since Tuesday evening, the magistrate told AFP.

He said the four were "currently being heard" over the use of public funds in the organisation of matches in African competitions involving national sides as well as clubs.

Alain Makengo, a lawyer for the four men, told AFP they are suspected of embezzling $1.0 million (800,000 euros) earmarked for four matches.

The national football league (Linafoot) announced Wednesday that it had suspended "all its activities until further notice".

The championship freeze was in "solidarity" with Omari and his two vice presidents, "humiliated and unjustly deprived of their freedom", according to a statement signed by Linafoot chief Bosco Mwehu and his secretary Emmanuel Kande.

The local Kinshasa League has also suspended its activities in the capital, "in support and solidarity" with those in custody.