20-year terms sought in DR Congo trial for mass child rape
Prosecutors are demanding jail terms ranging from 20 years to life against militiamen accused of raping dozens of children, including a baby, in eastern DR Congo, plaintiffs said on Tuesday.
Eighteen men, including provincial lawmaker Frederic Batumike, have been on trial since November 9 in Kavumu, in the troubled eastern province of South Kivu.
"The prosecution yesterday demanded punishment ranging from 20 years' jail to life for most of the accused, except for four for whom it requested acquittal," Charles Cubaka Cicura, speaking on behalf of a group of lawyers representing the victims, told AFP.
The defendants are suspected of belonging to a militia group called "Djeshi ya Yesu" -- meaning "Army of Jesus" in Swahili -- led by Batumike.
About 40 children, ranging from babies aged just eight months to a 12-year-old girl, were kidnapped and raped between 2013 and 2016.
Many of the assaults happened at night, according to Congolese surgeon Denis Mukwege, who sounded the alarm.
"At least two children died," the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo said.