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Prosecution demands death penalty for five men in the DRC

Lawyers and defendants attend the court hearing for the murder of former Italian ambassador to the DRC Luca Attanasio at the Ndolo military prison in Kinshasa on February 2023   -  
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ALEXIS HUGUET/AFP or licensors

Democratic Republic Of Congo

Five of the six men charged with murdering Italy's ambassador to the DRC in 2021 requested acquittal on Saturday, during a hearing in the capital, Kinshasa.

Last Wednesday, the prosecution wrapped up its case and demanded the death penalty for the six defendants.

"The defendants say that it is not them, the public prosecutor has not been able to demonstrate this, and even less so the civil party. We need the physical evidence, we need to establish that the person is dead" (...) "There is a serious question mark hanging over the degree of criminal responsibility that would be brought upon the defendants with the perpetration of the crime and the consequence is logical: (they must, Ed.) be acquitted!", demanded defence lawyer, Joseph Amzati.

Italy's former ambassador to the DRC, Luca Attanasio, was among three people killed on the 22nd of February, 2021, when a UN convoy was ambushed in the country's troubled east.

A lawyer representing Italy said that Rome does not support capital punishment and would prefer prison terms.

"The Italian Republic, as a civil party in this case, is campaigning for the abolition of the death penalty at an international level" (...) "It [Italy, Ed.] asks that the accused, despite their wickedness, should instead be sentenced to imprisonment and not the death penalty", requested Boniface Balamage, civil party lawyer representing Italy.

The tribunal is expected to issue a sentence within ten days.

The DRC has observed a de-facto moratorium on capital punishment since 2003, according to the United Nations, but courts continue to hand down death sentences.

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