Sheria Kahungu – Mutarule case
07.11.2016 ( Last modified: 04.01.2017 )
Trial Watch would like to remind its users that any person charged by national or international authorities is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The town of Mutarule is located in the Ruzizi plain in South Kivu. Two ethnics groups that populate the plain – the Bafuliro and the Barundi – have been for many years in conflict for land-holding, economic and political reasons.
During the summer 2013, the town of Mutarule was attacked by non-identified men. Houses were looted and several tens of people were killed. No investigation were carried out to identify the perpetrators of the crimes.
The night of 6 June 2014, men armed with war weapons attacked once again the town of Mutarule. This time they fired on the 200 civilians gathered in front of the Mutarule church. Others victims were stabbed and had their houses burned down. Approximately forty people died that night, mostly from Bafuliiru community.
Sheria Kahungu, a civilian, was allegedly involved in these events.
Early 2015, the Congolese authorities started to conduct investigations on the events that occurred in June 2014 in Mutarule. Seven men, military and civilian, were indicted. They were accused of inciting soldiers to commit acts contrary to the law or their discipline, of war crimes for murder, rape, pillaging, violence to person, attack against civilians and against protected property and destruction of property.
The trial started on 12 August 2016 before the Military Court of South Kivu. During the public hearing, only three of the seven accused were present(Kayumba Nyenyeri, Sheria Kahungu et Enabombi Tshaga). One was killed before the hearings and three remain at large. Moreover, more than twenty victims were heard as witnesses.
On 14 September 2016, the Military Court of South Kivu rendered its decision and condemned the civilian Sheria Kahungu to fifteen years of imprisonment for illegal possession of war weapons.