Trial of Congolese soldiers accused of mass rape to begin

2011-02-10 07:07

The trial of 11 Congolese soldiers accused of raping more than 40 women in a town in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo was due to get under way today.

A senior army commander, Lieutenant Colonel Kibibi Mutwara, was among those arrested in the wake of the New Year’s Day attack in the town of Fizi - a raping and looting spree allegedly carried out in revenge for the killing of a colleague.

Rape is a major problem in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which still suffers from instability almost eight years after the end of a war that sucked in neighbouring countries and led to millions of deaths.

Rights groups have blasted the culture of rape and looting, which they said is fed by militia groups and soldiers seeking to gain control over the lucrative illegal mining of minerals that proliferate in the eastern part of the Central African country.

The 10-day trial was to be held in a mobile court, part of a project run by the American Bar Association and funded by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa to increase access to the judicial system for rural areas.

A statement from the two groups said the mobile courts have secured 94 convictions since late 2009.

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