Test trial in Lumumbashi

06 December 2004 by David Lewis

Back from his visit to this isolated town in the south-eastern province of Katanga, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Colonel Mbombo Nzadi seems satisfied. He considers that "it was essential for us to speak to the people on the ground and better understand the circumstances" and therefore that the visit by the tribunal "has helped".

"We went to Ankoro to reconstruct the facts of what happened and listen to the people that witnessed this. We spent more than one month there and listened to over one hundred witnesses and have collected lots of information after listening to the witnesses and seeing the places where this all took place." Nzadi is the auditeur militaire supérieur at the Lumumbashi military tribunal, in the capital of Katanga, some 900 kilometers from Ankoro. It is before this tribunal that, after a seventeen-month delay, the groundbreaking trial of 23 government soldiers accused of crimes against humanity has resumed. The reopening of the trial has been praised by many. "This is the first time people will be tried for crimes against humanity in the Congo and we hail this as a step in the right direction," said Patricia Tome, the UN spokeswoman in the DRC.

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