DR Congo Soldiers on Trial for Selling Weapons to Militias

DR Congo soldiers on Trial for Selling Arms to Militias (News Central TV)

Sixteen persons, including nine soldiers, were charged on Monday with selling weapons to a militia organization in the DR Congo.

Army firearms are suspected of falling into the hands of CODECO, a violent gang infamous for ethnic massacres in the Ituri province of northeastern Nigeria.

The weapons were allegedly used in attacks on villages and camps for internally displaced people.

On February 1, about 60 people were massacred at Plaine Savo in Djubu area, according to military prosecutor Joseph Makelele.

The suspects and weapons confiscated were recognized on the first day of proceedings at a military court in Ituri, which included an AK47 assault rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

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A lieutenant colonel and three majors are among the nine military members facing charges.

Four women are among the civilian co-defendants, one of them was caught last month in possession of ammunition that she was allegedly transporting to the CODECO militia in the Kobu region.

The defendants are accused of war crimes, participation in an insurgency, and associating with criminals, in addition to the illicit sale of guns.

The Cooperative for the Development of the Congo (CODECO) is a political-religious movement that claims to represent the Lendu ethnic group’s interests.

Thousands of people died between 1999 and 2003 as a result of a long-running rivalry between the Lendu and Hema communities, until a European peacekeeping force intervened.

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The formation of CODECO was blamed for the resumption of violence in 2017. Hundreds of people have died as a result of the group’s attacks, which have forced more than 1.5 million people to abandon their homes.

At least 1.3 million people, including more than 800,000 children, have been displaced by inter-ethnic violence and clashes between the regular army, militia and armed groups in the provinces of Tanganyika and South Kivu in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo

Since May of last year, Ituri and the neighboring North Kivu province have been under “siege.” In order to prevent armed groups from attacking, the army and police have replaced senior authorities.

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