A military officer was initially sentenced to death but had their sentence commuted to life imprisonment in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Additionally, three other military personnel received 10-year prison sentences while two were acquitted by the military justice system. These sentences were a result of their involvement in the violent suppression of a protest in Goma on August 30, 2023, which tragically resulted in over 50 deaths.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), four officers have been sentenced by military justice following the crackdown on the Goma protest on August 30. Colonel Mike Mikombe has been sentenced to death, a sentence commuted to life imprisonment, as the death penalty has not been applied in the DRC for 20 years.
Three other individuals have been sentenced to 10 years in prison, while two accused have been acquitted.
These sentences are more severe than the prosecutor’s recommendation, as he did not seek the death penalty for the main defendant, the commander of the Republican Guard in North Kivu. However, the court did not accept the charge of “crimes against humanity” but instead charged them with “murder.”
Although the trial began promptly after the events on September 5, it did not uncover all the details of the events of August 30, 2023, when the repression of a protest organized by members of a politico-religious sect to demand the withdrawal of foreign forces and MONUSCO resulted in more than fifty deaths. The death toll is still disputed by the families of the victims.
The question also revolved around who had given the orders on that day. The main defendant, Colonel Mike Mikombe, had requested during a hearing that the military governor of North Kivu, General Constant Ndima, who had been recalled to Kinshasa for “consultations” and replaced since then, be heard by the court. “We cannot tarnish the Republican Guard because we must protect the governor,” he had stated. However, this request went unanswered.
The defense lawyers have already announced their intention to appeal these convictions.