DRC: taxi kidnappers sentenced to death, commuted to life imprisonment
Thirty kidnappers, tried since Wednesday, were sentenced to death on Friday (July 7th) by the Kinshasa High Court. However, the sentence was commuted to life sentences for the thugs accused of spreading terror in the capital through kidnapping on board taxis, a phenomenon that exploded. The judges charged them with robbery, assault, kidnapping, attempted rape, extortion and criminal association.
Kidnappings aboard taxis in Kinshasa are taking on an unprecedented scale that worries the population, especially women. Here, Congolese women board a taxi in the Congolese capital, June 10, 2019. (illustration) © John Wessels / AFP
Text by: RFI Follow
With our correspondent in Kinshasa, Pascal Mulegwa
Neither their confession nor their cooperation impressed the judges. As requested by the prosecutor, the death penalty was imposed on all the accused.
It was to the great satisfaction of the victims, but their lawyers have a taste of unfinished: "The real question: who are the accomplices of these thugs within the security services and within the judiciary, wonders Me Joël Kitenge. They themselves say "we know those who collaborate and release us once apprehended". Why not address the issue, why is the prosecution afraid? And that's a concern because the goal is for this network to be really dismantled.»
The prosecutor is satisfied with this judgment and denies having evaded the crux of the problem, these complicities denounced in the ranks of the security forces. "It should serve as a lesson to all those who believe that their actions will go unpunished," explains Edmond Isofa. Each of the defendants was given the floor, no one gave the elements of this alleged complicity. On the other hand, we have an obligation as an officer of the Crown to protect undercover officers. That is a legal obligation.»
If they do not hope to one day receive the financial reparations ordered by the judges, the victims, like Tatiana, want their tormentors to at least serve their sentences:
« By publicly accusing them here, we have put our lives at risk. They even threatened us in public, what will become of us tomorrow if they are released by their judicial accomplices. We are counting on the execution of this sentence. If they go out, they will kill us. »
The convicts were brought to prison aboard police armoured vehicles. Their lawyers declined to comment.
The death penalty is imposed in Congolese courts and tribunals, but has not been applied for 20 years. The country is a signatory to the moratorium on the abolition of this penal expression, the strongest in the world.
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