Thirty sentenced to death over anti-police clashes in DR Congo

A Muslim worshipper prays to celebrate Eid al-Fitr at the Martyrs' Stadium in Kinshasa [File: John Wessels/AFP]

Thirty people were sentenced to death in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) after a one-day trial for their role in anti-police violence marking the end of Ramadan in the capital.

A policeman was killed in Kinshasa on Thursday as rival Muslim groups fought over the right to mark the end of Ramadan at a major sports stadium.

Lawyer Chief Tshipamba said 30 people were sentenced to death in a trial that started on Friday, a day after the violence took place. A recording of the proceedings confirmed the verdict.

The DRC has not carried out death penalties since a moratorium was introduced in 2003. Since then, death sentences have been commuted to life imprisonment.

Dozens wounded

The regional government said in addition to the police officer killed several people were hurt and one police vehicle was burned in the fighting outside the Martyrs’ Stadium.

Kinshasa police chief Sylvano Kasongo said about 40 people were wounded and 35 arrested.

Two rival factions have for years disputed the leadership of the DRC’s Comico Muslim federation. The two sides remain at odds and occasionally come to blows.

About 10 percent of the DRC’s population is Muslim, mostly concentrated in the country’s east.

But Kinshasa on the Congo River in the west of the vast central African country also traditionally sees mass celebrations for the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan in public squares and on major roads.

Source: AFP