In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the trial of six soldiers continues, including two officers from the Republican Guard, following the bloodshed – with around fifty dead and dozens wounded – during an anti-MONUSCO protest on August 30th. The soldiers are facing charges, including crimes against humanity, murder, and incitement of soldiers to commit acts contrary to duty or discipline. On Friday, September 9th, the military court delved into the heart of the matter with the testimonies of witnesses and informants.
Colonel Franck Utunda, the director of Intelligence for the 34th military region, testified as a witness for the prosecution on Friday and directly accused the Republican Guard. He alleges that Guard members fired upon unarmed protesters while he was trying to convince them to submit their memo to the appropriate authorities.
Colonel Utunda claims that the Republican Guard first disarmed him before opening fire on the approximately one hundred protesters. “I was there, we counted 42 dead and 33 wounded on the spot,” he stated.
In response, the main accused, Colonel Mike Mikombe, the commander of the Republican Guard in North Kivu, said he had been informed by the 34th military region that those planning the march were M23 and Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) auxiliaries seeking to take control of the city of Goma. “Our role was to deter to prevent security disturbances in a city under siege and threatened by rebellion,” he explained.
Human rights defenders present at the hearing argued that military intelligence must provide evidence for their claims that the followers of the Wazalendo sect, which called for the protest on August 30, were M23 and FDLR auxiliaries.