The military tribunal in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has on Monday sentenced to death a senior army officer and a rebel commander he was meant to be fighting against, defense counsel and observers said. Reuters was there:
In a trial that highlighted the deep splits that plague Congo’s military, sentence was pronounced after Lieutenant Colonel Nzanzu Birotsho and Jamil Makulu, leader of the Ugandan Islamist Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels, were convicted of terrorism and belonging to an insurrection movement.
But since Congo has observed a moratorium on carrying out death sentences over the past decade, prison time would be the more likely outcome. Three officers convicted alongside Birotsho were expelled from the army and handed sentences ranging from 12 to 20 years. Two others were acquitted.
Makulu and most of the other alleged ADF members charged with crimes were not brought into custody and were tried in absentia.
The trial in the town of Beni in North Kivu province centred on the murder of Colonel Mamadou Ndala, one of the heroes of a rare army victory over M23 – the strongest rebellion in Congo’s resource-rich but conflict-ridden east – last year.