War-crimes charges in Lumumba death

2011-01-17 19:20
Brussels - Activists plan to file a civil suit alleging war crimes by a dozen former Belgian officials they say participated in the assassination of Congolese prime minister Patrice Lumumba 50 years ago, a Brussels attorney who heads the legal team said on Monday.

Lumumba headed Democratic Republic of Congo’s largest political party and was elected prime minister when Belgium granted independence to the country on June 30 1960, after almost a century of colonial rule. Many in the West viewed the charismatic prime minister as a dangerous radical because he wanted to nationalise the new nation's lucrative, Belgian-owned gold, copper and uranium mining industry.

The killing made Lumumba an anti-colonial martyr and a liberation symbol to many Africans and Asians. It inspired revolutionaries from South Africa and Cuba to Vietnam and Algeria.

"We want the case against the officials implicated in the murder to be airtight," said historian Ludo De Witte, who blamed the Belgian government for the killing in a 1999 book and is part of the group of activists.

A Belgian parliamentary probe determined in 2002 that the government was "morally responsible" for Lumumba's death. Brussels officially apologized for its role in his death but refused to pay compensation to his family or to prosecute those involved.

Potential threat

A US Senate committee found in 1975 that the US administration had also hatched a separate plan to kill the Congolese leader because Washington viewed the leftist leader as a potential threat.

DRC’s production of weapons-grade uranium vastly raised the stakes for the United States, which had used Congolese uranium to build the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945.

Christophe Marchand, who heads the legal team, said the suit, which was originally supposed to have been submitted to the court in June, was delayed due to volume of archives that had to be studied.

"There was an enormous mass of documents we needed to consult, including reports of commissions of inquiry both in Belgium and the United States, in order to establish the facts," he said.

Marchand said the complaint will be refiled "in coming weeks." He refused to name any of the officials they planned to implicate.

Truth about the assassination

On Sunday, several hundred demonstrators rallied around the statue of King Leopold II, who colonised DRC in the mid-19th century. Belgium's harsh rule caused the deaths of between four million and eight million Congolese.

"We want the truth about the assassination, we want justice done after 50 years, and we want Belgium to pay reparations for the consequences the assassination caused," said Jean Marie Luhahi Mongo, one of the organisers of the rally.

Historians agree that top Belgian officials and officers conspired to overthrow Lumumba and organised and his execution on January 17, 1961. The death ushered in the long, corrupt dictatorship of Congo's Western-backed leader Mobutu Sese Seko, who was finally overthrown in 1997.

The Belgian army captain who commanded the firing squad, was given a new name and secretly transferred to the Belgian brigade in West Germany to avoid public exposure.

Lumumba was hastily buried after the execution. But Belgian police later dug up the corpse, dissolved it in acid and crushed the remaining bones to avoid turning the grave into a pilgrimage site.

- AP
Read more on:    patrice lumumba  |  drc  |  central africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
3 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
When is a mountain more than just a mountain? 2014-12-18 07:26

When it’s an adventure! A group of Old Mutual employees found out how much is enough courage, endurance and camaraderie to take on Africa's highest peak.

/News
 

Five wrapping hacks you have to know before Christmas

Five gift wrapping hacks that will save Christmas for you!

 
 

I love summer.24

Sexiest Instagrams of 2014
Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!
Summer Survey!
Great ideas for the best summer sandwiches!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Analyst Developer

Western Cape
Progressive IT Resourcing (Pty) Ltd

Engineering Manager

Western Cape
Pro-Tech Recruitment
R850 000 - R1 100 000 Per Year

Mobile Marketing Manager

Western Cape
Recruit Digital
R15 000 - R22 000 Per Month

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off the bestselling books

Save big on the most captivating reads of 2014. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The energy today is serious, materialistic and hardworking. You may find you get a new outlook on things and you may want to spend...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.