DR Congo jails 55 for life for Ituri massacres
Fifty-five people were given life sentences in the Democratic Republic of Congo this weekend for the massacre of civilians in the northern region of Ituri in 2017 and 2018, the army said on Sunday.
A military tribunal in Bunia, the capital of Ituri, “sentenced to life 55 people, including a soldier, a policeman and an agent for the intelligence services,” the army’s spokesman for the region, Jules Ngongo, told AFP.
The defendants were “found guilty of crimes against humanity” for rape and murder in the Djugu territory between 2017 and 2018, he added.
They were also found guilty of the massacre of civilians, looting and the burning of entire villages.
In all, 62 people had been arrested and investigated in the case.
The trial resumed in late August after an interruption of 13 months.
The other seven defendants were acquitted, the spokesman said. The 55 who were found guilty were given five days in which to appeal.
At the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, the Djugu territory was rocked by intercommunal violence which resulted in dozens of deaths, while thousands were forced to flee to Uganda, on the other side of Lake Albert, which separates the two countries.
Ituri, a province rich in gold situated on the borders with Uganda and South Sudan, had also been the site of conflict between the Hema and Lendu ethnic groups that led to the deaths of tens of thousands between 1999 and 2003.