Congolese restitution activist Mwazulu Diyabanza, who came to news after attempting to steal an artefact from Louvre museum, has now been fined and imprisoned for the act.
The Louvre museum had claimed in the charge that Diyabanza’s actions, which became international news, had tarnished the image of the museum. As such, he was ordered to pay a fine of €5,000 and also deferred prison term. Diyabanza continues to maintain that he has not committed any theft as the object in question was stolen in the first place. The Louvre Museum refused to comment to the press after the hearing.
The incident occurred on 22 October this year when Diyabanza tried to lift a sculpture from its mount at the museum. He was soon interrupted by the guards to incapacitated him and placed him under arrest. However, the event was live-streamed across social media platforms and soon went viral.
Mwazulu Diyabanza is a political activist who has a long history of seeking restitution for artefacts stolen from the African countries during the colonial period. Apart from Louvre, Diayabanza had also committed similar acts in the Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac (Paris) and the Museum of African, Oceanic, and Amerindian Arts (Marseille). In the former event, he was fined €1,000 while in the latter he was acquitted of all charges.
The artefact in question at the Louvre was an idol of a guardian spirit from the late 18th century, originally from an island in Indonesia. The figure was a loan to the Louvre from Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac. Despite suffering from no damages, Diyabanza must also pay €2,000 to Branly-Jacques Chirac as part of the penalty.