A garrison military court has handed a death sentence to seven commandos of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) after pleading guilty to cowardice in front of the enemy.
The soldiers attached to the Republican Guard were arrested after fleeing from a fighting encounter with the M23 rebels on February 9, 2022, in Kamuronza, Sake, Masisi territory. The soldiers named Jonathan Mosazi Mondomo, Rodriguez Mayiza Mikoki, Tonton Koloti, Christian Kayema Munanga, Gr�goire Mbutene Juiour Ndiwa Mawoka and Ancelme Bangamwabo Mudatinya allegedly fled the fighting zone towards Sake town while shooting and caused panic among thousands of civilians who also abandoned their homes and fled towards Goma, Minova, and Mubambiro towns.
The civilians who were also fleeing the clashes between the FARDC and M23 feared a possible entry of the M23 rebels into the city of Sake after observing some FARDC soldiers also running away. In the process, two civilians died and four were wounded.
Appearing before the public military court sitting at the Congolese National Police Station in Sake, Masisi territory, on Saturday evening, February 11, the seven soldiers charged with cowardice, murder, aggravated assault, and dissipation of ammunition of war, contrary to article 57 of the military penal code.
The seven pleaded guilty to the charges and the court presided over by Maj Lazare Amusini sentenced them to death. In June 2022, over 170 soldiers abandoned the Bunagana border and fled to the Ugandan side of the Kisoro district and a few hours later M23 rebels appeared and occupied it. To date, FARDC says it is yet to reconquer the area.
DR Congo accuses Rwanda of backing the rebels while Rwanda and the Rebels strongly deny it. M23 says that it is fighting bad leadership in DR Congo based on corruption, xenophobia, and discrimination.
Rwanda has for many years criticised the Congolese authorities for failing to disarm Hutu rebels – some of whom were linked to the 1994 Rwandan genocide.