DR Congo Military Court Sentences 25 Soldiers to Death for Fleeing the Enemy

The Butembo garrison military court, situated in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, has sentenced twenty-five soldiers to death for “fleeing the enemy.” The soldiers, part of a group of 31 defendants, including four civilian wives, faced numerous charges, including fleeing the enemy, dissipating war munitions, violating orders, and theft. The court acquitted the other six defendants, citing lack of evidence. The sentencing follows recent M23 rebel advances in the region, including the seizure of Kanyabayonga, a strategic town astride the pathway to the two commercial cities of Butembo and Beni. The death sentence would not have been possible before March, which was when the DRC government lifted a death penalty moratorium that had been in place since 2003. The government’s decision targets soldiers accused of treason and seeks to discourage soldiers from fleeing amidst ongoing armed rebellion.


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