DRC. THREE SEPARATISTS SENTENCED TO DEATH
May 22, 2008: three members of a separatist group were sentenced to death in Congo in a mass trial for crimes
committed in the run-up to a bloody government crackdown on the group, the chief judge said.
Twenty-two members of the ethnic-based religious and political sect Bundu dia Kongo (BDK) were
on trial for crimes including plotting to overthrow the government, insurrection, and murder earlier this year. The state prosecutor in the
town of Mbanza-Ngungu, 150 km west of the Congolese capital Kinshasa, requested the death penalty for all defendants.
"Three were condemned to death for assassination and murder. Sentences of two months to 20 years were given to another 15, and four were acquitted,"
Aime Mayengo, the presiding judge, said. New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) questioned the legitimacy of the verdict.
"We have received numerous reports that confessions were obtained by torture. The case relies predominantly on these confessions, and we are troubled by the
allegations," Anneke Van Woudenberg, a Congo researcher for HRW, said. All the crimes date from a period between Feb. 17 and 29 and were followed by a three-week government campaign that saw hundreds of heavily armed police pursue
BDK members from village to village. (Sources: Reuters, 23/05/2008)