Thursday, October 06, 2005

Congo soldiers on trial for rape

Congo soldiers on trial for rape

Many women in the DRC have become victims of rapeTwelve soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo have gone on trial accused of raping 119 women.
The soldiers are accused of the gang rape in north-eastern Equateur province following a mutiny on 21 December 2003.
The United Nations has welcomed the trial as it says it is the first time alleged rapists in DR Congo are being charged for crimes against humanity.
Armed men have raped tens of thousands of women and girls since DR Congo's five-year civil war began in 1998.
Only a handful of the perpetrators have been brought to justice.
Stealing pay
"Rape is for the first time being charged as a crime against humanity," the UN's Kemal Saiki said.
The war in DR Congo
Soldiers from the 9th Battalion of the DRC army mutinied in December 2003 after accusing their commanding officer of stealing their pay.
They were then allegedly involved in gang-raping women and girls in Nsongo Mboyo, as well as looting afterwards.
"According to our investigations, at least 119 women, including girls under the age of 18, were raped," Reuters quotes UN spokeswoman Rachel Eklou as saying.
The accused soldiers originally fought for the Congolese Liberation Movement rebel group and were integrated into the national army following the 2002 peace deal.
The trial began on Tuesday in Mbandaka, the main city in Equateur province, and is


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