Senior DR Congo soldiers sentenced to die for selling arms to militia

A Congolese army pick-up truck carrying troops near Kibumba in the area surrounding Kivu city on May 25, 2022. PHOTO/AFP

What you need to know:

  • The trial opened in conflict-torn Ituri province last month with the group facing charges of supplying rifles and ammunition to the notorious CODECO group, which has been blamed for a slew of ethnic massacres. 

A military court in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday sentenced to death eight soldiers, including a colonel and two majors, as well as three civilians for selling arms to a violent militia.
The trial opened in conflict-torn Ituri province last month with the group facing charges of supplying rifles and ammunition to the notorious CODECO group, which has been blamed for a slew of ethnic massacres. 

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At a public hearing, the court's president Colonel Kelly Dianga  sentenced the three senior officers, a captain and four rank-and-file soldiers for criminal association, war crimes, and participation in an insurrectional movement. 
The civilians -- two women and a man -- were also sentenced to death for involvement in the affair, he added, while another two civilians received 10-year jail terms. 
Another army major and a civilian were acquitted for lack of evidence.
The DR Congo has observed a de facto moratorium on capital punishment since 2003, according to the United Nations, but courts continue to hand down death sentences. 
CODECO -- the Cooperative for the Development of the Congo -- is a political-religious sect that claims to represent the interests of the Lendu ethnic group.

The Lendu and Hema communities have a long-standing feud that led to thousands of deaths between 1999 and 2003 before intervention by a European peacekeeping force.  
Violence then resumed in 2017, blamed on the emergence of CODECO.
Congolese security forces have governed Ituri and neighbouring North Kivu province since May last year, in a bid to crush the myriad militias active there. Civilian massacres have continued, however.
 

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