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DR Congo military court issues death, jail sentences over protester killings

Congolese Interior Minister pays tribute to the people killed in late August by the army at the burial site on the outskirts of Goma, eastern DRC on Sep. 18, 2023.   -  
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ALEXIS HUGUET/AFP or licensors

Democratic Republic Of Congo

A military court in the Democratic Republic of Congo sentenced the head of the elite Republican Guard in Goma to death on Monday (Oct.02) over the August killing of protesters in the eastern city.

The death penalty is often handed down in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but it has not been applied for 20 years and is systematically commuted to life imprisonment.

Three others were given 10-year prison terms.

The defendants' lawyers have said they will appeal the decision, while two others standing trial were acquitted.

The six soldiers had been on trial since September 5 over the deadly crackdown against a religious sect that called for demonstrations against the United Nations' presence in eastern DRC.

The crackdown officially saw 57 people killed.

Grey areas remain, one question left is whether the main defendant, col. Mike Mikombe, gave the order to shoot, and whether he was following orders or acting on his own.

He suggested in court that he had been misled by an operational order identifying the sect members as proxies of rebels and the Rwandan army.

He had called on the court to probe the provincial military governor who was recalled to the capital Kinshasa, but he did not appear in court.

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