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 Court Sentences Seven Soldiers To Death For Cowardice

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A court in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo has sentenced seven soldiers to death for cowardice in the face of the enemy and murder.

They were found to have fled advancing M23 rebels, retreating through the town of Sake where they killed two people by recklessly discharging their arms.

Lawyers for the soldiers said they would appeal.

Last November, three other soldiers were convicted of cowardice and sentenced to death.

In DR Congo death sentences are commuted to life imprisonment.

Fighting in the mineral-rich North Kivu province has intensified, driving tens of thousands from their homes, despite a passionate appeal by Pope Francis to end conflicts when he visited the country last week.

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“Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo! Hands off Africa! Stop choking Africa, it is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered,” Pope Francis said at a Mass in the capital Kinshasa, estimated to have been attended by a million people.

DR Congo has been beset by conflicts since its independence in the 1960s. Some have been driven by the fight to control its mineral wealth, others by ethnic rivalry.

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There’s been public anger against the UN and the East African regional force for failing to stop M23 rebels from capturing large swathes of territory in North Kivu.

DR Congo, the US and UN experts accuse neighbouring Rwanda of backing the rebels – a claim it denies.

Rwanda has for many years criticised the Congolese authorities for failing to disarm Hutu rebels – some of whom were linked to the 1994 Rwandan genocide.






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Source:  BBC

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