Ntumwa Maro, a warlord in the dock
Marocain is suspected of being one of the highest-ranking leaders of a group that killed, terrorized and enslaved the people of Kalehe, in a series of attacks carried out between 2005 and 2007.
The Mai Mai group led by Marocain, which raided the territory of Kalehe, has committed the most serious crimes against civilians: looting, fire, rape, torture, murder, slavery, etc.
The group was extremely well organized. Villagers who were not killed during the attacks were sometimes taken to a group headquarters in the middle of the forest. There, the victims were enslaved, imprisoned, and tortured.
The group was known for its barbaric practices: it tortured its prisoners and left them for dead, tied to a tree for days. They threw people into a pit called “ANDAKI” where they were tortured and subjected to degrading treatment…
Women and girls in particular were taken prisoner and reduced to sexual slavery. Some of them were also forced to take “husbands”. The situation lasted up to a year and a half for some.
“I was taken hostage by soldiers who gave me to one of them to become his wife. I was also tortured in a hole called ‘Andake’, says a victim who wishes to stay anonymous.
Ntumwa Maro was arrested in August 2014.
He has been prosecuted for crimes against humanity for rape, imprisonment, and other inhuman acts of a similar character, as well as for the war crimes of sexual slavery, looting, attack against civilian population and on buildings devoted to religion. He is also being prosecuted for participating in an insurgency.
He is criminally liable as a direct perpetrator for committing the crimes mentioned above individually, jointly or through other people. Indeed, around 50 victims and witnesses have reported abuses incriminating him personally, as well as militia acting under his command.
The defendant already admitted, in the Public Ministry’s report in 2014 and in 2016, taking part in several attacks carried out in different localities in the DRC.
For the first time in the DRC, TRIAL International has conducted DNA tests on the children of victims of sexual slavery born during their captivity.
The trial opened on 13 April 2018. 15 days later, the Military Court of South Kivu has condemned the Lieutenant-Colonel Maro Ntumwa to 20 years imprisonment for having organized or authorized war crimes and crimes against humanity.
On 12 June 2018, the appeal hearings were initiated in Bukavu before the Congolese Military High Court.
Read more about the proceedings
Between 2005 and 2007, in the Kalehe territory, the armed Mai-Mai group, led in part by Marocain, carried out a series of attacks on the civilian population.
Owing to the level of organization of the group and its fighting power, the Congolese army was forced to retreat from the territory, leaving the civilian population without any protection from the group’s attacks. It was not until 2007 that the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) managed to regain possession of the lost territory and to liberate the villages and their inhabitants.
Originally, in the 1980s, the Mai-Mai phenomenon referred to self-defense movements developed within the civilian population to defend its territories from armed groups. However, the phenomenon has changed and some of these groups are now responsible for serious violations committed with impunity against the civilian population.
With several million direct and indirect victims since 1994, the conflict in the DRC is the deadliest since the end of the Second World War.
Watch the testimony of a victim