The biggest rape trial in the history of the Democratic Republic of Congo has delivered just two guilty verdicts against government soldiers.
The trial relates to the alleged mass rape of 130 women by 39 soldiers. A military court in DR Congo on Monday cleared almost all of 39 soldiers accused of rape and murder in the country’s eastern South Kivu province.
Of those convicted, only two were found guilty of rape, with a further 24 being convicted for other crimes such as looting.
Al Jazeera’s Malcolm Webb, reporting from outside the courtroom, said convictions for rape were rare, and the fact that the trial had taken place at all was a step forward.
“It remains to be seen whether those convicted serve their full sentence,” he said.
The court in North Kivu imposed sentences of 10 and 20 years in jail for a number of soldiers who “violated instructions, looting and distributing ammunition,” according to an AFP news agency journalist present at Monday’s hearing.
A UN report last month released a report documenting 3,645 cases of sexual violence in the country between January 2010 and December 2013.
The report said that 73 percent of the victims were women, 25 percent children, and two percent men.
The victims ranged between the ages of two and 80. The report said that over half the rapes were committed by members of armed groups in eastern Congo.
Soldiers and state agents were implicated in one-third of the assaults.