Brazzaville, Nov 17 (AFP/APP):Relatives of 13 young men who died in a Congo police station in July 2018 have been awarded compensation in the high-profile case, according to a court decision Tuesday.
The court of appeal awarded 15 million CFA francs ($27,000 / 22,850 euros) per victim, Steve Bagne, a lawyer for the families, said.
A lower court, in 2019, had refused to order compensation, “but this was overturned by the judges of the court of appeal,” he said.
“They re-assessed the facts and acknowledged the civil responsibility of the Congolese state and those charged.”
The deaths occurred after police in Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo, picked up around 20 youths during an “anti-delinquancy” operation following a murder.
They were taken to the Chacona police station in the Mpila neighbourhood.
The circumstances of the deaths remain unclear, but rights monitors say they had been tortured.
In March 2019, the head of the police station was given a two-year jail term, his deputy three years, and three other police were given one year.
A woman police officer, the only female in the group, was handed a 12-month suspended term.
The six had been charged with manslaughter and criminal negligence towards an individual at risk.
The Congolese Observatory for Human Rights (OCDH) said the sentences amounted to “trivialisation of torture and contempt for human life” and noted that no-one higher up in police ranks had been punished.
Referring to the compensation decision, Bagne said, “We are a little satisfied, as the ruling by the court of first instance was thrown out. But 15 million (francs) per victim is minimal, because the young men died in the prime of their lives.”
Some relatives who attended Tuesday’s decision were visibly angry, an AFP journalist saw.
“We aren’t satisfied because we have lost people who are dear to us,” said one, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
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