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DR. Congo colonel accused of mass rape surrenders: military
by Staff Writers
Goma, Dr Congo (AFP) July 8, 2011

An army colonel accused with nearly 200 soldiers of mass rape in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has surrendered with his men to the military, an army spokesman told AFP Friday.

Colonel Nyiragire Kulimushi, also known as Kifaru, "came out (of the bush) yesterday (Thursday) with 116 soldiers. He is currently at the (army) training centre in Luberizi," in Sud-Kivu province, said Lieutenant-Colonel Sylvain Ekenge.

"He did not negotiate the conditions of his surrender because there were no conditions to negotiate," Ekenge said. "We gave him the order to come out and he came out of the bush. He remains at the disposal of the authorities while waiting for the outcome of a military hearing. He is not in detention."

Some 248 Congolese women said they were raped by soldiers last month, local medical reports showed, in a part of the eastern DR Congo, a region the UN has called the world's "rape capital."

Ekenge added that an investigation was being carried out by a military team with four magistrates, police detectives and two officers from Kifaru's Mai Mai militia who did not flee with him, as well as agents of the human rights branch of the UN mission in DR Congo (Monusco).

Colonel Kifaru, a former member of a Mai Mai tribal militia, deserted from a military base on June 9 with almost 200 men, in the Fizi territory, and then attacked the villages of Nyakiele, Kanguli and Abala between June 10 and 12.

Kifaru's Mai Mai militia force was integrated into the national army in 2009, like many armed groups in the vast DR Congo, following a peace agreement with Kinshasa.

The colonel, who had headed a military zone in the Fizi area, refused to see his officers excluded from commanding ranks after an army restructuring that created new regiments formed from different militias.

Following the attacks on the villages, government spokesman Lambert Mende said troops were actively looking for Kifaru and that a special tribunal would be set up to look into the case.

The United Nations, human rights groups and foreign governments have long complained about impunity for heinous crimes committed by armed men in the DR Congo.

Much of the violence is committed in the Sud-Kivu and Nord-Kivu provinces, on the eastern border with Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda, where rebels from neighbouring countries are active as well as local armed groups.

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