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BBC's Stephanie Wolters in Kinshasa
The high number of executions has caused a stir in Kinshasa
 real 28k

Friday, 4 February, 2000, 17:21 GMT
Soldiers executed in DR Congo

Army soldiers are paid poorly if at all


At least 19 soldiers have been executed by firing squad in the Democratic Republic of Congo for sedition and acts of banditry.

Twelve of those executed were commanding officers of a battalion that was sent near the frontline in the war with rebels backed by Uganda and Rwanda, according to government officials and human rights organisations.



After arriving by boat they then refused to march further or to engage in combat.

The officers were brought back to the capital, Kinshasa, in late January along with 360 soldiers and tried days later.
Battle for the heart of Africa


Although they were charged with trying to join enemy ranks, independent sources in Kinshasa indicate their refusal to fight was more likely to be the result of not being paid.

The commanding officers were condemned to death on charges of treason, while the 360 soldiers were sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The remaining soldiers executed this week had been charged with crimes ranging from murder to rape.

Growing indiscipline

The BBC's Stephanie Wolters says the increasing number of executions is causing concern, even in Kinshasa, where military executions are not infrequent and has brought into focus growing indiscipline in military ranks.

The Congolese military has promised to restore discipline in an army which has been beset by problems since the later years of the rule of President Mobutu Sese-Seko.

Military police have been patrolling the streets and markets of Kinshasa in recent weeks in search of soldiers who have gone absent without leave.

Human rights groups have expressed their concern and warned that the frustration felt by underpaid soldiers is increasingly being taken out on civilians, whom they see as an extra source of income.

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See also:
11 Jan 00 |  Africa
Lebanon appeals against Congo death sentence
07 Jan 00 |  Africa
Kabila expected at UN Congo talks
11 Dec 99 |  Africa
Grim prospects for Congo peace
10 Jan 00 |  Africa
'Violent repression' in DR Congo
20 Dec 99 |  Africa
Timeline: The conflict in the DR Congo
08 Jul 99 |  Africa
Congo peace plan: the main points

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