On Tuesday, judicial sources reported that a military court in Ituri province in the northeastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo had upheld the death sentences of eight Congolese soldiers and one civilian who had been sentenced to death previously. There were two high-ranking colonels in the group of eight.
The prosecution was able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the two colonels had organized and planned an attack on a convoy carrying Chinese workers in Irumu territory, Ituri, with the intention of stealing four gold bars and 5,600 euros carried by the victims. The attack took place in Irumu territory.
On March 17, 2022, an assault took place in the village of Nderemi against the caravan that had just returned from a gold mining location. The incident resulted in the deaths of two Chinese nationals and the injury of their civilian driver. According to the verdict that was given down in Bunia, the capital city of Ituri province, Colonels Mukalenga Tsendeko and Kayumba Sumahili were found guilty of “murder and criminal association,” the same charges that were leveled against the other defendants.
In spite of the frequency with which the death penalty is handed out in the DRC, it is almost always followed by a sentence of life imprisonment. Three more soldiers were found not guilty because there wasn’t enough evidence, even though two of them had already been found guilty and given ten years in prison.
In a separate ruling, the highest military court in the Democratic Republic of the Congo handed down a sentence that found Lieutenant Colonel Marcel Kaligamire and two Congolese soldiers guilty of “misappropriating wartime munitions intended for military operations” and sentenced them to “capital punishment.”
The sentences of the five other defendants—four military and three civilians—who were prosecuted in this case and initially sentenced to death have been lowered to ten years in jail each. Two members of the general public each received a prison term of five years.
The prosecution claims that the illegally obtained ammunition was purchased by the armed group known as the Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO). After a decade of relative peace, the mineral-rich Ituri region in the DRC has seen a return to violent conflict ever since the formation of this militia in 2017. It is thought to be the cause of the deaths of a lot of people over the past few years.