Rebel chief arrested in DR Congo over mass rape: UN

UN accuses Mayele of leading a coalition of fighters who raped 500 people.

Last Updated: Oct 06, 2010, 12:48 PM IST

Kinshasa: A DR Congo militia chief was on Tuesday arrested on suspicion of leading raids on villages in the country`s east where 500 people were raped in late July and early August, the UN said.

Colonel Mayele, commander of a tribal Mai-Mai militia, was arrested in a military operation carried out by the UN Mission for the Stabilisation of the DR Congo (MONUSCO) and the Congolese military, a UN spokesman said.

"He is currently being held in Goma," the capital of Nord-Kivu province, the spokesman added, without giving more details on the arrest.

The UN accuses Mayele of leading a coalition of at least 200 fighters from the Mai-Mai militia and the rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda who raped some 500 men, women and children.

The mass rapes took place in 13 villages in the Walikale region in Nord-Kivu province.

UN special envoy for sexual violence in the DR Congo, Margot Wallstroem, was on her second visit to the country yesterday, and criss-crossed the unstable provinces of Nord-Kivu and Sud-Kivu.

"I came to meet the victims, to hear their stories, the better to understand what is happening, their fear, their rage and their depression," Wallstroem said in an interview.

"I also came to get the message across that we have to pursue the perpetrators, because it`s like that that you put an end to impunity."

Wallstroem visited the remote territory of Walikale in the west of Nord-Kivu, where the mass rapes took place.

PTI