20 Jan 2011

Army commander accused of leading mass rape

5:46 am on 20 January 2011

An army commander in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has been accused of leading a recent mass rape of at least 50 women.

Sources quoted in a United Nations report accuse Lieutenant-Colonel Kibibi Mutware of links to the rapes in the town of Fizi on New Year's Day after a soldier was lynched.

The BBC reports that Lt Col Kibibi denies the charges. He said that the soldiers who raided the town had disobeyed orders.

As in previous cases of rape in DR Congo, many victims are expected to keep their plight secret to avoid being abandoned by their husbands and families.

Lt Col Kibibi is the current commander of the 43rd sector in an operation against rebel groups in eastern DR Congo.

He told the BBC that he left his base only briefly on 1 January to assess the death of the lynched soldier, and did not hear about the night's violence until the next morning.