Burundi, Rwanda urged to probe bodies found in lake

2014-09-26 22:08

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Bujumbura - The United States has called on Burundi and Rwanda to conduct a "thorough and impartial" probe into the appearance of several corpses in a lake bordering the two central African nations.

Officials say a total of six bound and bagged bodies have turned up in Lake Rweru over the past two months, although fishermen have reported seeing as many as 10 times that number.

Where they have come from and why they are there remains a mystery.

In a statement received on Friday, the US State Department expressed its "deep concern regarding the discovery of a number of corpses... some bound and wrapped in plastic", adding that several countries have also raised concerns at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

"We urgently call on the Burundian and Rwandan governments to conduct a prompt, thorough, and impartial and concerted investigation of these deaths with the assistance of independent, international forensic experts," the statement said.

Few signs of progress

"We firmly believe that these victims deserve to be identified, their families deserve to know their fate, and those responsible should be brought to justice."

Late last month a joint Burundi-Rwanda commission was set up to find the origin of the bodies, and Burundi's presidential spokesperson Willy Nyamitwe has insisted that the two countries were working together on the case despite few signs of progress.

On both banks of Lake Rweru, which is about 10km long, residents say they think the bodies were washed downstream by the Nyabarongo-Kagera river. The river originates in Rwanda before flowing into Lake Rweru.

The discoveries come amid concern over political violence in Burundi ahead of presidential polls due next June.

Neighbouring Rwanda is led by strongman President Paul Kagame, who despite being credited with overseeing dramatic economic advances while in office, has also come in for mounting criticism for suppressing dissent, including the alleged assassinations of exiled opposition figures.

Read more on:    us  |  rwanda  |  burundi  |  east africa

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