KINSHASA (Reuters) - Twenty soldiers from Democratic Republic of Congo went on trial this week for alleged rape and other crimes committed while serving as U.N. peacekeepers in neighboring Central African Republic, the Congolese government said on Thursday.
The soldiers have been in jail since returning to Congo in December and January following investigations conducted in Central African Republic by military investigators, said Jeanine Mabunda, President Joseph Kabila’s adviser on sexual violence.
In a statement, Mabunda said that the soldiers are being tried by a military court in the capital Kinshasa. Their identities were not disclosed.
The U.N. mission in Central African Republic has been beset by accusations of sexual abuse since taking over control from an African Union mission in September 2014.
Congo’s 800 peacekeepers serving in that mission were repatriated last month following a series of accusations of sexual abuse of women and children.
Congolese authorities have promised to investigate the different allegations, though a government spokesman previously dismissed many of them as fabricated and accused the United Nations of singling out Congolese soldiers.
The problem has surfaced elsewhere. The U.N. said this week that it had received new sexual abuse allegations against peacekeepers from Morocco and Burundi, including one that involved a 14-year-old girl.
Reporting By Aaron Ross; Editing by Edward McAllister and Raissa Kasolowsky