Eleven DRCongo troops to go on trial on rape charges

Eleven government troops, are to go on trial in eastern DR Congo on charges of raping.

Last Updated: Feb 09, 2011, 23:59 PM IST

Kinshasa: Eleven government troops,
including four officers, are to go on trial in eastern DR
Congo on charges of raping three dozen women since early
January, judicial sources said Wednesday.

A military court in the eastern town of Bukavu, in
Sud-Kivu province, will try the 11, including a
lieutanent-colonel and three majors, in the eastern town of
Baraka from tomorrow, said Colonel Freddy Mukendi, who heads
the court.

The suspects are accused of raping at least 35 women
and injuring 32 other people during the night of December 31
to January 1 in the town of Fizi.

The attacks led UN human rights chief Navy Pillay to
urge Kinshasa to ensure a prompt investigation and to ask that
the perpetrators be brought to justice as soon as possible.

The trial is expected to last 10 days and groups such
as the American Bar Association, Avocats Sans Frontieres
(Lawyers Without Borders), the UN Development Program and the
UN mission in DRCongo MONUSCO are covering travel expenses for
the victims and the court as well defence lawyer fees.

Late in January, the government questioned UN
allegations that its soldiers raped 67 women that month,
saying it only confirmed three cases and had arrested several

The UN Joint Human Rights Office had said the rapes
occurred in the Sud-Kivu and Nord-Kivu provinces in the
unstable east of the country, where many armed groups operate,
on the night of January 1.

However government troops had only arrived in an area
of Nord-Kivu where 32 rapes were allegedly committed on
January 2, government spokesman Lambert Mende said in a
statement, expressing "reservations" about the claims.