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Congo sentences 30 to death over Ramadan clashes

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ARSENE MPIANA/AFP or licensors

Democratic Republic Of Congo

Thirty people have been sentenced to death in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for their role in the violence against the police that marked the end of Ramadan in the capital Kinshasa on Thursday, judicial sources said.

The verdict was pronounced in the early hours of Saturday morning after a hastily conducted trial that began Friday in Kinshasa.

A lawyer confirmed the sentences.

They were charged with criminal association, rebellion, assault and battery, as well as attempted murder.

Five people were acquitted.

Congo imposed a moratorium on executions in 2003.

On Thursday, violent clashes broke out between Muslim worshippers fighting for access to the Martyrs stadium, Kinshasa's main sports complex, to hold Eid-al fitr prayers. 

The protesters attacked the police who were present to supervise the ceremony, injuring dozens of them.

An initial official report stated that one police officer was killed, and images of the incident were widely circulated on social networks.

The hearing was broadcast live on public television throughout the day and lasted until early Saturday morning.

The Islamic community of the DRC has been experiencing a succession crisis for several years between the two rival factions within the only association representing the faithful - the Islamic Community of Congo (COMICO). 

Court is yet to rule on the legitimate leaders.

Estimated to be about 10% of the population, Congo's Muslims are mainly located in the eastern regions of the country.


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