Following convictions of soldiers, dozens of members of the sect responsible for the protest brutally suppressed on August 30 in eastern DRC, which resulted in over 50 deaths, have now received severe sentences.
A total of 115 other individuals faced charges of “participation in an insurgent movement” and “murder of a police officer” in a summary trial that commenced on September 1 before the North Kivu Garrison Military Court.
The defendant handed the heaviest sentence is the primary accused, the leader of the politico-religious sect that called for the protest against the presence of MONUSCO and the East African regional force in the region. He was initially sentenced to death, which was later commuted to life imprisonment. The court’s verdict exceeded the military prosecutor’s request for a 20-year prison term.
The collective of defense lawyers deems this sentencing excessive. “My clients are survivors of a massacre, and all have pleaded not guilty,” a defense member stated.
Among the 114 other individuals on trial, 62 were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 10 to 20 years, while 52 were acquitted. On that day, 29 minors were also arrested, and they were all acquitted by the juvenile court.
The lawyers for the convicted have already declared their intention to appeal.