Six soldiers appeared in court on Tuesday, September 5, in the eastern DR Congo city of Goma accused of involvement in the killing of more than 40 people during a demonstration against the United Nations mission in the country on August 30.
The group, which includes a colonel and a Lieutenant Colonel, are charged with “crimes against humanity through murder, malicious destruction and inciting soldiers to commit acts contrary to duty or discipline,” according to local media.
They are Colonel Kalamba Mikombe Mike of the Goma Republican Guard, Lieutenant-Colonel Bawili Donatien, Kabanda Idriss, Mbaya Mbaya Fabrice, Mwati Musegwa and Amita Bangala Daniel.
Defence Minister Jean Pierre Bemba, Interior Minister Peter Kazadi and Human Rights Minister Albert-Fabrice Puela were present during the court session, according to reports.
The trial was postponed due to heavy rain.
Reports said at least 48 were killed in the crackdown on the anti-UN protest. The Congolese government said the demonstrators “carried out actions which undermined public order,” and admitted 43 people were killed and 56 injured.
The UN Human Rights Office said “the death toll may get higher,” adding that at least 222 people were reportedly arrested, including women and children.
The East African Community on Monday called for an independent investigation into the incident.
The 25-year-old UN mission in DR Congo, known by its French acronym MONUSCO has faced demonstrations since at least July 2022.
It is accused of failing to restore peace in the eastern part of the country where more than 130 local and foreign armed groups responsible for killings roam.
The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in August that MONUSCO had embarked on a withdrawal plan, which will put an end to one of the longest and most expensive peacekeeping missions.