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DR Congo: Women mobilise money to get gang rape suspects to court

DR Congo: Women mobilise money to get gang rape suspects to court
This photograph, taken on September 14, 2020 in Ituri province, northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, shows the ruined prison in the town of Djugu.   -  
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ALEXIS HUGUET/AFP or licensors -

Democratic Republic Of Congo

After the trial of an alleged gang rape case was postponed due to lack of funds, some women on Thursday mobilized an amount of $450 for the judicial service in Lubumbashi, in the southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo to arraign the ten prisoners accused of the act into court.

In September 2020, 56 prisoners were sexually assaulted for three days by fellow inmates after a riot in the prison. According to the prosecution, the prison authorities had lost control.

As a result, three victims have been infected with AIDS and 16 others are pregnant.

At the opening of the trial on 28 October, the hearing could not take place because the prosecution said it lacked the means to transport the defendants, who were held in two prisons 120 km from Lubumbashi, to the court, situated at Kasapa prison.

"The 900,000 Congolese francs ($450) we are handing over is the fruit of our local contribution" so that the transport of the defendants can be provided, said Ms Mamie Umba, the spokesperson for women's associations in Lubumbashi.

In his reaction, the public prosecutor at the High Court of Lubumbashi, Teddy Katumbo Lumbu welcomed the gesture. "I welcome the gesture" because "the means were indeed lacking to move the accused. The rule of law advocated by the Head of State must be applied to this trial," he said at the time of the handover. "

The gang rapes in Kasapa prison took place on 25, 26, and 27 September 2020.

Of the prisoners accused of the rapes, "two have died in prison", said Ilunga Dilamuna Konde, director of Kasapa prison, while "36 raped women who have served their sentences" are free. "16 women among the victims" are still serving their sentences.

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