Former Rebel Leader Facing Charges of Crimes Against Humanity to Stand Trial in France

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
2 Min Read

This significant development marks the path towards a trial, representing the first legal proceeding initiated based on the UN Mapping Report. Former Congolese warlord Roger Lumbala has been indicted for crimes against humanity committed between 2002 and 2003 in the eastern part of the DRC.

These acts are documented in the United Nations “Mapping Report,” which catalogs 617 crimes committed in the region between 1993 and 2003. Roger Lumbala, a long-time resident of France, was arrested in January 2021 following a preliminary investigation opened in 2016 by the French National Anti-Terrorism Prosecutor’s Office (PNAT).

Roger Lumbala Tshitenge, 64 years old, has been charged with “complicity in crimes against humanity,” including offenses such as murder, acts of torture, rape, looting, and enslavement, including sexual slavery.

These crimes took place in the Ituri province between October 2002 and January 2003. Roger Lumbala was the leader of the RCD-N armed group at that time and allied with the Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC) led by Jean-Pierre Bemba for the “wipe the slate clean” operation. This military campaign resulted in the massacre of civilians, particularly Pygmies.

Subsequently, alleged acts of cannibalism were reported. The UN report documented the use of “rape as a tactic of war.” Roger Lumbala argues that he did not have “effective control” over his fighters at the time of the crimes.

To substantiate the charges, over 20 survivors traveled to France to testify during the investigation. They have been recognized as civil parties and seek justice and reparations for the crimes they endured. The NGO Trial International, which supports them, applauds this unprecedented step towards addressing crimes that still enjoy complete impunity in the DRC.

Soukaina Sghir

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