DRC: 22 Soldiers Sentenced to Death for Fleeing from M23 Rebels

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At least 22 soldiers have been sentenced to death in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The military garrison court of Butembo, convening in a swift trial in Lubero, North Kivu, found them guilty of “cowardice, dissipation of war munitions, and looting.”

This death sentence, handed down on the afternoon of Monday, July 8th, 2024, comes amid heightened tensions due to the advance of M23 rebels, who are backed by Rwanda. The 22 soldiers from the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) were condemned after four days of hearings by a mobile military court in Lubero, primarily for fleeing in the face of the M23 rebels.

The conviction aims to serve as a deterrent and encourages the public to report soldiers who commit abuses against civilians. Captain Kahumbu Muhasa Mélissa, deputy prosecutor of the military court of Butembo, stated, “We have even told the public: if you notice soldiers behaving unlawfully, do not hesitate to report them to the auditor. We will not hesitate to act to prevent them from continuing their actions. Whether it is me or the public, we are satisfied.”

The defense, however, argued that justice was not served. Attorney Jules Mveko announced plans to appeal the verdicts. “As counsel for those convicted, we believe that justice has not been fairly administered. Therefore, we intend to file an appeal within the appropriate timeframe,” he asserted.

Since the beginning of July, at least fifty-three soldiers have been convicted, five have been acquitted, and four military wives have also been acquitted, according to Major Byamungu, president of the military garrison court of Butembo.


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