DR Congo colonels get death penalty for murder

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Six people, including two army colonels, have been convicted to death by a military court in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in connection with the murder of two Chinese mine workers in March.

Four other military personnel were sentenced to 10 years in prison by the Ituri Military Court on Friday.

All but one of those receiving the death sentence were members of the military.

The two colonels are accused of planning an attack on a convoy in March, with the aim of stealing four gold bars and $6,000 in cash being transported by the victims, who were returning from a gold mine.

Verdict ‘serves as an example’

In the DRC, death penalties are regularly handed down but systematically commuted to life imprisonment.

“This must serve as an example for the black sheep in the armed forces,” Lieutenant Jules Ngongo, spokesman for military operations in the gold-rich Ituri province, told the AFP news agency.

Attacks on Chinese-managed mines and Chinese workers are not uncommon in resource-rich eastern DRC, which has been ravaged by militia violence for decades.

Last year, the DRC government placed security officials in charge of the administration of Ituri and neighbouring North Kivu province in a bid to curb violence. However, the measure has failed to stop attacks.

The defence team said they would appeal.