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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 June, 2003, 22:14 GMT 23:14 UK
France grants bail to Papa Wemba
Papa Wemba
Wemba's unique music brought him a global following
The Congolese-born music star Papa Wemba, who is under investigation in France on suspicion of helping smuggle people to Europe, has been released on bail.

Papa Wemba - whose real name is Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba - was arrested in February.

He is accused of organising foreign visas for hundreds of people from his native Democratic Republic of Congo, by passing them off as musicians in his band.

The 53-year old musician, who has Belgian citizenship, is wanted on similar charges in Belgium.

He was released from a Paris prison on Thursday, after posting bail of 30,000 euros ($35,000).

French police began an investigation six months ago, when 200 Congolese arrived at Roissy airport in Paris saying they were musicians for Papa Wemba.

They were allowed through immigration control, but later vanished.

Police believe that every immigrant paid 3,500 euros ($4,100) for the passage.

Global fan base

Papa Wemba is widely known as the "king of Congolese rumba".

After building a following in Africa and forming his present outfit Viva La Musica, Wemba left the continent in the early 1980s for France.

He rapidly built a global fan base with his unique music, called "rumba rock" after its blending of electric guitars and African influences.

He has played with international stars such as singer Peter Gabriel, touring with him in the 1990s and appearing on one of albums.




SEE ALSO:
France investigates Papa Wemba
20 Feb 03  |  Europe


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