A Congolese judge handling the graft case against Vital Kamerhe, former top aide to President Felix Tshisekedi, has died.
Judge Raphael Yanyi was pronounced dead Wednesday morning on arrival at a hospital in the capital Kinshasa after he fell ill at his home at around 2am, police confirmed.
"The judge was a victim of a heart attack. He was not murdered, he was protected by the police, " Kinshasa police chief Sylvano Kasongo said.
Shortly after the announcement, residents staged a protest outside the judge’s residence alleging foul play.
A day before his death, Judge Yanyi had directed the public hearing of Kamerhe’s trial in $50 million graft case.
It was not immediately clear what will happen at trial following Yanyi’s death.
Kamerhe, once a close ally of Tshisekedi, is accused of embezzling the funds allocated to public works during Tshisekedi’s first 100 days in office. Kamerhe denies the charges.