Crime & courts

Prisoners sentenced to 15 years over mass jail rapes

Ten prisoners have been handed 15-year jail terms for the rape of dozens of female inmates at a prison in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, lawyers said.

Fifty-six women were repeatedly raped during a three-day mutiny at Kasapa jail in Lubumbashi in September 2020.

Three of the women were infected with HIV (which causes AIDS) and 16 became pregnant after the assault, according to lawyers for the victims.

“The court has found the 10 prisoners guilty of raping over 30 women inmates. They stormed into the women’s section of the prison during riots in the prison in September 2020 and raped them,” Lieutenant Peter Ntangalo, a security officer in Haut-Katanga, told Anadolu Agency by phone.

Prosecutors had sought 20-year terms against the accused, who were also sentenced on Wednesday to pay the equivalent of $5,000 to each of the women.

“We are satisfied with the verdict, [which came] after a long struggle to gain justice for my clients,” Melanie Mumba, a lawyer for the victims, told AFP news agency by phone.

Defence lawyer Noella Bashizi said she would consult her clients about whether to appeal.

“It’s the Congolese state which should be prosecuted – it’s responsible for the bad jail conditions,” she said.

“The women were raped over three days and no one intervened. And yet there’s a police base close to the jail.”

In addition to committing mass rape, the 10 were convicted of setting fire to the prison.

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