Seven of the nine soldiers prosecuted for the Mwanza Lomba massacre in Kasai Oriental were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment of up to 15 years. A warrant officer was sentenced to 12 months in prison for non-denunciation and another acquitted for lack of evidence.
Perpetuity for the two fugitives, 20 years imprisonment for the two majors, including the commander of the operation, 15 years of criminal servitude for the other three officers, including the author of the video. The trial before the military court in Mbuji-Mayi resulted in a video showing soldiers shooting, sometimes at point-blank range, on suspected militiamen, mostly disarmed, in the village Of Mwanza Lomba, in the Kasaï Oriental in December 2016.
While the sentences were slightly downgraded from those required by the prosecution, the guilty plea for murder and dissipation of munitions of war was indeed established by the judge. For the defense it is an inconsistency. Master Jimmy Bashile continues to plead self-defense and execution of orders. “It is the Congolese state that has endowed them with these weapons to put an end to these phenomena,” he says. How can the court conclude that this is murder? ” She has already scheduled an appeal. Observers, on the other hand, are satisfied that the guilt of the military has been established.
Soldiers who are sometimes shot at close range on suspected militiamen, including women, most of them disarmed, in the famous video. Remains “a taste of unfinished,” says an observer of the American Bar Association. At no time were those targeted by the shooting and the repression of the army heard, namely the alleged militiamen. “None wanted to testify despite the appeals. The trial was thus contented with a single version of the story. An incomplete history that risks minimizing the crimes committed in the Kasai, regrets this lawyer.
Written by Hakizimana Fabrice.