Four Bantu jailed for 'genocide' killings in DRC

2016-10-01 22:00
File: AP

File: AP

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Lubumbashi - Four ethnic Bantus have been convicted in the trial of 32 Bantus and Pygmys accused of crimes against humanity over 2013 clashes in the Democratic Republic of Congo's troubled Katanga province, judicial sources said on Saturday.

"The appeal court in Lubumbashi convicted four people (and sentenced them) to 15 years in jail, and freed 28 others," court official John Kasongo told AFP, adding that those convicted were found guilty of counts of "genocide by murder".

All four convicted were ethnic Bantus, he said.

Fighting broke out in the south-eastern province of Katanga in 2013 between a tribe of the Bantu majority, the Luba, and Pygmies from the Batwa group, who consider that they have long been marginalised, exploited and despised.

More than a hundred people died in the fighting.

Altogether, 34 people were accused of participating in the violence. Two of them are minors and their cases have been referred to a children's court.

The United Nations Joint Office for Human Rights in the country (BCNUDH) has voiced concern over "the disproportion between the (severity of the) charges and the way in which the investigation was conducted."

However Freddy Kitoko, a lawyer for the Pygmy defendants, praised the court decision.

"I am satisfied as all my clients were acquitted for lack of proof," he said.

But Kitoko added that he remained concerned due to "the renewal of violence between the two communities over the past month."

Fighting resumed on September 3, near Nyunzu town, in the newly-created Tanganyika province -- which was part of Katanga until last year.

So far, eight people have been killed in the fresh violence.

Since 2013 Katanga, a region the size of Spain, has been cut up into four provinces and has been the scene of numerous conflicts between the Bantus and Pygmies, engaged in a cycle of pillaging, arson, killings and displacements.

Read more on:    drc  |  central africa

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