BENI, Congo (AP) — A Congolese court on Friday sentenced to death nine rebels and acquitted two others as the government seeks to hold a rebel group accountable for attacks that have killed more than 1,000 people in eastern Congo since October 2014.
The convicted were prosecuted for crimes against humanity, terrorism and participation in a rebellion, presiding judge Lt. Col. Jean-Paulin Esosa Basema said. They are members of the Allied Democratic Forces, a rebel group founded in neighboring Uganda that is now based in Congo. A third defendant was transferred to a court for minors, the judge said.
The trial of more than 100 defendants began in December.
Beni residents said they were satisfied with the first sentencings in the trial, and they said they hope it brings further international intervention against the violence in the region.
The ADF rebels are among scores of armed groups vying for control in mineral-rich eastern Congo. The ADF rebel movement has been active since the 1990s but intensified its attacks inside Congo several years ago.
The president of the local human rights group, Omar Kavota, said that while he welcomed the trial and the great consideration given to the convictions, he did not welcome the death sentences.