Africa

DR Congo rape trial: Many soldiers cleared, two guilty

  • 5 May 2014
  • From the section Africa
The verdict being read out

A mass trial of 39 soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo has ended with two convicted of rape and 13 others cleared.

The remaining men were convicted of lesser crimes. Lawyers for the victims called the ruling an "insult".

The UN says more than 135 women and girls were raped in Minova after the army entered the town in November 2012.

Both the government and rebel groups have used rape as a weapon of war.

The BBC's Maud Jullien in Goma says the outcome is a great disappointment for the victims.

Most of the accused were low-ranking soldiers

Most of the soldiers accused in the trial were low-ranking, and several victims have said that their rapists were not included among the 39.

Lawyers for the victims say the ruling will discourage rape victims from coming forward.

A human rights activist told the BBC the investigations were too short, and did not allow the inquiry to gather enough evidence.

'Angry'

According to a UN report, at least 102 women and 33 girls were victims of rape or other acts of sexual violence by government troops in the market town to the south of Goma.

The incident happened when M23 rebels took control of Goma and thousands of soldiers retreated to the town of Minova to the south.

Congolese soldiers told the BBC that they were "angry and humiliated", and that they had been ordered by their superiors to begin raping women.

The trial began in November 2013 after months of international pressure.

The UN had threatened to stop funding army units suspected of abuses.

The M23 has since been defeated but several other armed groups operate in eastern DR Congo.

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