Conflict & Justice

DRC army defectors handed death sentence in absentia


A soldier of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) walks past a truck-mounted machine gun in the bush of Jomba in restive North Kivu province on May 19, 2012. The Congolese army was engaged in an intense firefight with M23 rebels in the hills above the village of Kinyamahura, near Bunagana, on the border with Uganda.


Phil Moore

A military court in the Democratic Republic of Congo has sentenced two soldiers to death in absentia for their role in a mutiny in the east of the country.

Eight other officers who were present in court on Wednesday were sentenced to life in jail, while another three were handed prison terms ranging from two to 200 years after a trial that lasted more than a fortnight in the town of Uvira, in South Kivu province.

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Since April DRC military forces have been battling former rebels who joined the army as part of a 2009 peace deal but recently defected in protest over their living conditions, the Agence France Presse reports.

While fighting in South Kivu province has ceased, aid workers say more than 100,000 people in North Kivu province have been forced to flee mass executions, mutilations, rapes and kidnapping that are occurring on an almost daily basis, according to The Guardian.

A number of other armed militias, including the notorious Congo-based Rwandan FDLR rebel group, have become involved in the fighting since the conflict began.

According to the BBC, the thirteen mutineers sentenced Wednesday confessed to taking part at a planning meeting in the eastern town of Goma in March chaired by General Bosco Ntaganda, who is wanted for war crimes but denies masterminding the mutiny. 

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