Colonel Kibibi Mutware, the ex-CNDP Amani Leo commander who led his troops on a rape and pillaging spree in Fizi town on New Years Day, has been found guilty by a military court of crimes against humanity, and has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.
According to the BBC, this is the first time a commanding officer of a FARDC unit has been convicted of rape. This hopefully sets a precedent that will hold commanding officers accountable, and will therefore be reflected in the actions of their subordinates. This by no means signals the end to mercenary-like behavior on the part of the Congolese military, but perhaps the higher-ups in the military are starting to pay attention due to increased scrutiny. This will be especially interesting due to the number of rebel “armies” that are currently being incorporated into the FARDC; creating a trained, well-behaved military out of so many different factions will be quite the feat. Here’s hoping for the best.
The military court in Baraka also convicted 8 more soldiers under Col. Kibibi’s command, including 3 officers, and gave them sentences ranging from 10 to 20 years. However, the heavier sentences went to the officers, possibly again signaling to FARDC commanders that they need to be responsible for the behavior of their units.
An unusual aspect of the trial was the willingness of many of the survivors to testify against their attackers; forty-nine women stepped forward to give testimony in court.
Posted By WALTER JAMES
Posted Mar 5th, 2011