World Bulletin / News Desk
The trial of Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels charged with killing innocent people in North Kivu, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, began Saturday.
The trial, conducted by the Operational Court Martial of North Kivu in collaboration with high military court magistrates, will consider charges that the rebels killed innocent civilians with impunity, attacking their homes and hacking them to death.
''[The suspects] were all arrested during operations against the ADF and taken to various prisons from where they are being brought here for trial,” said Beni prison officer Paul Bongo.
The defendants are facing a 10-judge panel which arrived in Beni four days ago to prepare for the trial.
''These people are accused of killing innocent civilians. They have been being detained by the justice and security services for several months,” said Col. Lufwa Mokono, the general counsel for Democratic Republic of Congo Army, locally known as FARDC.
The length of the trial is uncertain.
''Today the trial began in principle. It is not a single case. It is a series of cases spread out over time,'' said Mokono. He added that not all the suspects in court are from Uganda, as there are also Tanzanians, Rwandese, and Congolese.
He condemned the Congolese who collaborate with ADF rebels to kill their fellow Congolese.
Among the 10 judges on the panel is Col. Nchaikolo, the first president of North Kivu’s Military Operational Court.
Soft targets hit hard
The country's defense ministry decided to start the trial of the suspected ADF rebels and their collaborators arrested by the army in combat zones.
According to Mokono, about 200 ADF suspects will appear in the trial.
Pierre Kasongo, a local who lost a relative in an ADF attack six months ago, said, ''I am happy to see those thugs being tried in courts of law after being charged with killing our relatives. ''
The ADF rebels originated from Uganda in the 1990s with the intention of ousting Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.
At first they established bases in the DRC near the border with Uganda and attacked “soft” targets in Uganda like schools and towns.
When Ugandan troops attacked their bases in earnest, they fled into the jungles of North Kivu and set up camps where they trained recruits, largely young men abducted from villages, and used then to attack and kill civilians.
About three years ago UN troops in collaboration with the Congolese army raided the camps and the rebels scattered, fleeing in small groups into the jungle from where they now often attack and kill civilians.
Less than a week ago they attacked homes near Beni and killed over 30 people.
On Aug. 4, Uganda’s president and his Congolese counterpart agreed to establish military cooperation and exchange information in the fight against the ADF.
Al-Shabaab claims responsibility for deadly attack
US calls on Russia to ensure transparent investigation after death of American paramedic
Voters cast their ballots under high-security measures after Thursday’s terrorist shooting in the French capital
The act disregards human life, Northern Ireland Secretary Brokenshire says
First results say centrist Macron, far-right Le Pen go through to run-off in French vote
In an interview with Italian daily La Stampa, Sicily-based prosecutor Carmelo Zuccaro made his most specific claims yet over NGO activities off Libya, which the EU border agency Frontex recently described as tantamount to providing a "taxi" service to Europe.
Israeli police arrest 18-year-old Palestinian suspected of attacking Israelis at Tel Aviv hotel
"The posters are printed by the candidates themselves and it is up to them to hand them in to the electoral commission before the deadline" of April 10, the ministry said.
It marked the first loss for the security body's Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) in Ukraine since Europe's only war began more than three years ago.
Camp Lemonnier, home to some 4,000 US soldiers and contractors, is vital to US military operations in Somalia against militant groups like Al-Shabaab, and also provides support for US operations in Yemen, where special forces regularly carry out drone strikes against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Victims were caught in fight between ISIL and Iraqi forces
"Let's see if we can go eat them for breakfast," he says with an ominous chuckle.
Mass abstentions could mar one of the most unpredictable presidential elections in France's recent history
The Palestinian medical sources said dozens of residents from the hardline settlement of Yitzhar went to the neighbouring village of Urif and threw stones at residents who responded in kind.
After tense negotiations with security forces blocking their way, protesters in Caracas were allowed to march to their destination, the headquarters of the Catholic bishops' conference.
On Saturday, police arrested a man carrying a knife at Paris's Gare du Nord station, briefly causing panic as some passengers rushed out of the way.