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DRC Death Sentences for Selling Arms to Insurgents

Militiamen of the armed group URDPC/CODECO from the Lendu community take part in a meeting in the village of Wadda, Ituri Province, northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo on September 19, 2020.

A military court in the Democratic Republic of Congo has imposed the death sentence on eight soldiers and three civilians convicted of selling weapons to the CODECO militia, this despite the nation observing. according to the UN, a de-facto moratorium on the rope since 2003.

The condemned DRC defendants learned their fate Friday at a public hearing after being convicted not only for weapons sales, but also, for war crimes, criminal association, and taking part in an "insurrectional movement."

The soldiers now facing execution include three senior officers, a captain, and four troopers. Among the three civilians are two women.

The court acquitted two others charged - an army major and a civilian - for lack of evidence.

These sentences came despite a de-facto DRC moratorium on the rope in place since 2003.

CODECO -- the Cooperative for the Development of the Congo -- is a political-religious sect that claims to represent the interests of the Lendu ethnic group.

The Lendu and Hema communities have a long-standing feud that led to thousands of deaths between 1999 and 2003 before intervention by a European peacekeeping force.

Violence then resumed in 2017, blamed on the emergence of CODECO.

Meanwhile, the United Nations reported Friday that fighting this week between government forces and another group, called "M23," that claims to represent ethnic Tutsis has forced over 72,000 people to flee their eastern DRC homes.

Eastern DRC has been in arms since 1996, after Rwanda and several other nations invaded to engage Hutu militia that took part in Rwanda's 1994 genocide.

The UN reports that DRC has 5.6 million internally displaced persons, the most in Africa. There are at least 1.9 million in North Kivu, the province where the current fighting is taking place.

This story was written from information sourced from Reuters and Agencie France Presse.