Congo colonel found guilty of murder for role in Goma massacre in Aug

Congolese military defendant Colonel Mike Mikombe Kalamba leaves after a court hearing for the murder of 56 civilians during a demonstration against the presence of United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and East Africa Community Regional Force (EACRF) at the military auditorium in Goma, North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of the Congo September 5, 2023. REUTERS/Arlette Bashizi/File Photo

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) - A Congolese colonel has been found guilty of murder and other crimes related to the August killing of 56 people during an army crackdown on anti-U.N. demonstrations in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a local court said on Monday.

Colonel Mike Mikombe, who was head of the Republican Guard unit in the city of Goma, where the incident took place, was one of six soldiers on trial. He was sentenced to death, but the death penalty is no longer applied in Congo, and is generally commuted to life imprisonment.

His lawyer, Serge Lukanga, said he would appeal the decision.

Three other soldiers were sentenced to 10 years' servitude. Mikombe's deputy and another soldier were acquitted.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in eastern Congo, known as MONUSCO, has faced protests since last year, spurred partly by complaints that it has failed to protect civilians against decades of militia violence.

An anti-MONUSCO protest in July 2022 resulted in more than 15 deaths, including three peacekeepers in Goma and the city of Butembo.

(Reporting by Arlette Bashizi; Writing by Sonia Rolley; Editing by Edward McAllister and Christian Schmollinger)

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