Soldier tortured in prison gets justice
Marc (real name withheld), was a member of the Burundian military and father of two children. He was arrested at the same time as many of his colleagues, falsely accused of plotting a coup.
Marc denied the allegations for hours but his prison guards did not give up, resorting to torture to make him “confess”. He was subjected to blows from chairs, gun butts and belts, insults and mock executions – which amounts to psychological torture. Wounded and terrified, he “confessed” to the crimes of which he was accused.
Another prisoner recalls Marc at the end of his ordeal: “He was sitting on a chair and was handcuffed… his body was bloody. […] He had head wounds, which were very visible as he had no hair. He had rope marks on his biceps. He was showing signs of pain and fatigue but was conscious. He had evidently been subjected to severe torture during his interrogation.”
After months of imprisonment and ill-treatment, Marc finally appeared before a court for the crimes of which he was accused. He denounced the torture he had suffered and explained the circumstances in which he had signed his statement. Despite this, he was sentenced to nearly three years in prison.
When Marc was released in 2012, no investigation had been opened. Repeated threats did not stop him from denouncing his treatment and appealing to the courts. Weakened by his imprisonment and still suffering the after-effects, he was also financially destitute. His wife and children had to temporarily leave Burundi for their own safety.
Several international NGOs came together for Marc’s cause but the authorities did not take any action following their efforts. As a result, TRIAL International took up the case in 2013, taking it before the United Nations.
In 2015, the UN recognised the violations suffered by Marc, as well as the State’s responsibility. Unfortunately, he was not able to enjoy this victory for long. Marc died in 2016 before compensation was awarded to him.