Trial for gang rape of prisoners in DR Congo opens
Ten defendants accused of participating in the September 2020 gang rape of dozens of women detained in south-eastern DR Congo appeared in court for the first time on Thursday.
The 56 prisoners were sexually assaulted for three days by fellow inmates after a riot broke out in a prison in the city of Lubumbashi and the prison authorities lost control of the establishment, according to the prosecution.
The hearing was held in a provisional court set up at Kasapa prison by a Lubumbashi court.
Originally set for October 28, the hearing was postponed after the state could not find the funds to transport the defendants the 120 kilometers (75 miles) to Lubumbashi from the two prisons where they were being held.
A group of angry women funded the necessary US $ 450.
Sixteen of the alleged victims attended Thursday’s hearing. All are still serving prison sentences, while 36 others have been released and the other four have been transferred to another prison.
Victims’ lawyer, Melanie Mumba, said the hearing marked the “start of relief.” My clients saw their attackers for the first time ”.
The rapes took place on September 25, 26 and 27 last year as the town was under attack by a militia.
Victims say the rapes infected three women with HIV and caused 16 pregnancies.
Among the accused, three died in prison and two soldiers were released after a preliminary investigation, said the prosecutor.
The next hearing is set for November 25.