Belgium to probe murder of Congolese hero Lumumba
Brussels court gives its go-ahead to a long-awaited judicial probe into the role of a dozen Belgians in the 1961 assassination of Congolese independence hero Patrice Lumumba.
BRUSSELS - A Brussels court gave its go-ahead Wednesday to a long-awaited judicial probe into the role of a dozen Belgians in the 1961 assassination of Congolese independence hero Patrice Lumumba.
The sons of Lumumba, viewed as a hero across the continent of Africa, filed a war crimes complaint a year ago in the former colonial power against 12 Belgians they suspect of involvement in their father's death.
Ruling on the complaint, the court found that the prosecutor's office could go ahead with a probe to establish whether those named were involved in his death.
The Brussels court, which is linked to Belgium's appeals tribunal, was asked to decide whether the complaint met unique Belgian legislation allowing for the prosecution of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide on condition the plaintiffs or accused have an established link to Belgium.
Lumumba's family have said the 12 Belgians were allegedly in the Congolese province of Katanga when Lumumba was killed there on January 17, 1961.
Lumumba was the first democratically elected prime minister of Congo after it gained independence from Belgium on June 30, 1960.
He was murdered by Katanga officials after Joseph-Desire Mobutu took power in a coup shortly afterwards. The country was renamed Zaire by Mobutu, and is now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo.
A Belgian parliamentary inquiry concluded in 2001 that Belgium had a "moral responsibility" in Lumumba's assassination. The government apologised to its former colony, but no legal action was taken.