DRC soldiers cleared of rape, murder

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iol afr april 19 North Kivu province Reuters The border between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. File picture: James Akena

Goma, DR Congo - A military court in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday handed down only two rape convictions in a mass trial of 39 soldiers on charges including rape and murder during a 2012 army offensive.

A lieutenant colonel was sentenced to life in prison and a corporal got 10 years for rape during the military operation against rebels in eastern South Kivu province.

Another soldier was jailed for life for murder while he was acquitted on a rape charge.

The North Kivu court also imposed sentences of between 10 and 20 years in jail against 22 soldiers for "violating instructions, looting and distributing ammunition", while acquitting them of rape charges in the trial closely watched by Congolese civil society and international rights groups.

Thirteen officers were acquitted of dereliction of duty, and the court said it was incompetent to try another one of the defendants.

The trial had opened in November in Goma, the regional mining hub and capital of neighbouring North Kivu province. 

Sapa-AFP


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