Minova military trial: two convicts for a mass rape

14 May 2014 by Louise Jones, Goma (DRC)

Last week a military court in Goma, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), delivered a long-awaited judgment. For the past six months, 39 soldiers of the Congolese army were on trial for war crimes including looting, mass rape and murder. But to the disappointment of the 190 victims who had filed a complaint as civil parties, only two soldiers were convicted of rape and all the officers but one cleared. The remaining 25 men were convicted, mainly, of looting and indiscipline.

The trial opened in November 2013 after months of international pressure. The DRC authorities finally proceeded, to show that the country is fighting impunity, including in its own military accused of involvement in the crimes committed in the small town of Minova, some 80 km south of Goma, between 20 and 30 November 2012.

According to the United Nations Mission for the Stabilisation of DRC (Monusco), at least 102 women and 33 girls between 6 and 17 were raped and sexually assaulted by members of the Congolese armed forces during these days and nights of terror. In total, 190 women decided to file a complaint for rape and more than 800 for looting. The incident occurred after hundreds of soldiers, defeated by the M23 rebel group and driven out of the provincial capital of Goma, arrived en masse in the nearby town of Minova. For around ten days they engaged in systematic looting, pillaging and raping of local civilians.

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