Following the murders of more than 50 civilians opposing the United Nations peacekeeping operation earlier this year, a military court condemned a Congolese military colonel to death and convicted three soldiers.
During final arguments on Friday, a top public prosecutor asked for life imprisonment rather than death for the main defendant, Colonel Mike Mikombe.
However, Mikombe was sentenced to death on the basis of “murders,” despite the fact that allegations of crimes against humanity were dismissed.
Three more second-class soldiers from the same regiment received 10-year sentences. Two other commanders, including Col. Donat Bawili, who led the Congolese armed forces regiment in Goma at the time, were acquitted.
The six soldiers have been on trial since September 5 for a fatal crackdown on a religious group that had called for protests against the UN’s presence in the region.
According to the most recent government figures, 57 people were murdered in the crackdown, which has heightened tensions in Goma, the capital of North Kivu, a region beset by armed groups’ brutality. 140 persons, including minors were arrested during the crackdown.