30 sentenced to death over anti-police clashes in DR Congo
Thirty people were sentenced to death in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday after a one-day trial for their role in anti-police violence marking the end of Ramadan in the capital, judicial sources said.
A policeman was killed in Kinshasa on Thursday as rival Muslim groups fought over the right to mark the end of Ramadan at a major sports stadium, officials said.
A lawyer for civil parties, Chief Tshipamba, told AFP 30 people were sentenced to death in a trial that had started on Friday, a day after the violence allegedly took place. A recording of the proceedings obtained by AFP confirmed the verdict.
DR Congo has not carried out death penalties since a moratorium was introduced in 2003. Since then, death sentences are commuted to life imprisonment.
The regional government said that in addition to the police officer killed several people were hurt and one police vehicle was burned in the fighting outside the Martyrs’ Stadium.
Kinshasa police chief Sylvano Kasongo said around 40 people were hurt and 35 had been arrested.
Two rival factions have for years disputed the leadership of the DRC’s Comico Muslim federation.
While the case remains before the courts, the two sides remain at odds and occasionally come to blows.
Around 10 percent of the DRC’s population are Muslim, most concentrated in the country’s east.
But Kinshasa on the Congo river in the west of the vast central African country also traditionally sees mass celebrations for the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan in public squares and on major roads.