Congo government ready to exhume bodies from mass grave
Apr. 16, 2015
KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — Congo's government is ready to exhume the bodies of more than 400 people buried in a mass grave in March following allegations of killings, a minister said Thursday.
Police, judiciary and the administration have opened inquests into the burial of 421 bodies in rural Maluku, and magistrates will determine if an exhumation is needed, said Justice and Human Rights Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba.
Congolese authorities have said the mass grave in Maluku holds fetuses, stillborn babies and homeless people that were buried to make room in the Kinshasa morgue. The opposition and rights groups have called for independent investigations, saying that those buried in the mass grave include demonstrators killed during protests in January against a revision of an electoral law.
"There is nothing taboo, and nothing to hide," Mwamba said. "If the investigating magistrates determine we must exhume, we will exhume in plain light of day, in the presence of diplomats of the world."
He said that hundreds of people die daily in Kinshasa, and many bodies go unclaimed.
"The Congolese government has not spoken the truth about the bodies buried in Maluku," countered Martin Fayulu, one of the leaders of the opposition.
The United Nations Human Rights Office said the allegations were reported to it last month.
Ravina Shamsadani of the United Nations Human Rights Office urged the Congolese government last week to ensure the investigation was "promptly completed in a transparent, credible and independent manner." The U.N. body is also conducting an independent human rights investigation, including site visits and interviews.