UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The Democratic Republic of the Congo will put a group of government soldiers on trial as early as next week for alleged rapes and looting in the country’s turbulent east, a U.N. spokesman said on Wednesday.
U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said the governor of Congo’s South Kivu province informed the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo, known as MONUSCO, that the 10 detained soldiers would be tried in a court in Fizi, the region where the attacks are alleged to have taken place.
“He (the governor) expects the proceedings to start next week,” Nesirky said. “The commander of the troops at the time of incident has not been arrested.”
Nesirky told reporters that MONUSCO has called for the removal of both the commander and deputy commander of the unit whose troops were involved in the incidents and asked that they be held accountable.
MONUSCO has called for “prompt actions to ensure that all the perpetrators are brought to justice,” Nesirky said. He added that two senior officers linked to the incident — both of them majors — have fled.
Last summer hundreds of people were raped by Rwandan Hutu rebel forces in eastern Congo. U.N. officials said at the time that Congolese government soldiers fighting the rebels were also likely guilty of rapes, killings and looting.
The government of Congo has been struggling to regain control over the country since a 1998-2003 war and accompanying humanitarian disaster that killed 5.4 million people.
Its army has been accused of human rights abuses during U.N.-backed operations against the FDLR rebel group. Last month a U.N. Security Council committee blacklisted a Congolese army commander for ordering massacres and rapes of women and children in the east.