A Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) colonel has been found guilty of murder and other crimes related to the August killing of 56 people during an army crackdown on anti-UN demonstrations in the eastern part of the country, a local court said on Monday.
Col Mike Mikombe, who was head of the Republican Guard unit in the city of Goma, where the incident took place, was one of six soldiers on trial. He was sentenced to death, but the death penalty is no longer applied in Congo and is generally commuted to life imprisonment.
BBC reports that his lawyer, Serge Lukanga, said he would appeal against the military court’s ruling.
Three other soldiers were sentenced to 10 years of servitude. Mikombe’s deputy and another soldier were acquitted.
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The UN peacekeeping mission in Eastern Congo, known as Monusco, has faced protests since last year, spurred partly by complaints that it has failed to protect civilians against decades of militia violence.
This was the highest number of deaths in a crackdown on protests against UN peacekeepers in eastern DR Congo.
The protesters were demanding the withdrawal of UN troops, accusing them of failing to protect civilians who have been under decades-long attacks by rebel groups in the region.
The UN has almost 18,000 personnel in the country, including more than 12,000 soldiers, making it the second-largest UN mission globally.
The August protests were organised by a Christian sect known as Wazalendo (Patriots), to demand the departure of UN troops from the region.
An anti-Monusco protest in July 2022 resulted in more than 15 deaths, including three peacekeepers in Goma and the city of Butembo.