Congo soldiers on trial for killings, cited in CAR rapes

UN force in CAR may send Congo soldiers home over abuse claims

Six suspects have appeared in a Congo military court to answer charges in the gruesome March killings of two United Nations experts and their interpreter.

Two of the suspects presented Monday in Kananga, the provincial capital of Kasai Central, face murder charges.

The other four suspects face charges of facilitating the escape of suspects.

Defense lawyer Tresor Kapangu has argued against the case being tried in Congo’s military court, saying such charges fall under international, not domestic, crimes.

The bodies of American Michael Sharp, Swedish national Zaida Catalan and colleague Betu Tshintela were found in March after they went missing while investigating human rights abuses.

The Congolese government later obtained a cellphone video showing them being killed.

It blamed Kamwina Nsapu militia members who are active in central Congo’s Kasai provinces.

UN could send home Congo soldiers in CAR over rapes

Meanwhile, hundreds of Congolese soldiers on a UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) face allegations of sexual abuse, fuel trafficking, and poor discipline.

The commander of the UN peacekeeping force in the CAR, General Balla Keita, has called for the soldiers to either be disciplined by the Congo or face departure, according to a confidential memo that was leaked on Tuesday.

He warned the Congo to “commit itself to improving without delay the standard of its unit” or else a “decision should be made to repatriate and replace the Congolese battalion.”

The Congolese soldiers in the CAR have previously been accused of sexual abuse and exploitation, according to Human Rights Watch documents.

A battalion of about 800 Congolese soldiers were sent to the CAR last year, but 120 of them were repatriated following similar allegations, which involved at least seven victims, six of whom were children, according to a report by the UN force in the CAR.

UN peacekeeping spokeswoman Ismini Palla said the peacekeeping force in the CAR has carried out an assessment of the Congolese contingent and has shared the results with the Congo.

“The battalion is notorious for SEA (sexual abuse and exploitation) misconducts, fuel trafficking and poor discipline,” Keita wrote in the memo, adding that he had sent “six blame letters” to the battalion commander already this year.

“The situation has deteriorated to the point that the battalion is no longer trustable because of poor leadership, lack of discipline, and operational deficiencies,” Keita wrote.

Source: Associated Press/Press TV