Democratic Republic of the Congo: Belgium returns a tooth from Patrice Lumumba to his family

The head of the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office Frédéric Van Leeuw presented Monday, June 20 in Brussels to the family of Patrice Lumumba a box containing a tooth of the Congolese hero assassinated in 1961, during a ceremony broadcast live on television. The casket will then be placed in a coffin.

“I thank you for the legal steps you have taken because, without these steps, we would not be here today, it has allowed the justice of our country to be able to move forward”

Frédéric Van Leeuw, head of the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office

in a speech

He was facing a dozen members of the Lumumba family, under the golds of the Egmont Palace in Brussels. One of the sons of Prime Minister of the former Belgian Congo assassinated in 1961 seized the box, without speaking. An official ceremony chaired by the Belgian and Congolese Prime Ministers was scheduled after the game “intimate and private” of restitution.

“War crime”

Referring to the ongoing legal proceedings for “war crime”after the complaint filed in 2011 by the family to clarify the conditions of the assassination, the head of the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office Frédéric Van Leeuw announced: “I obviously agree with the investigating judge to continue to try to move forward (…) it remains a fight.” The tooth had been seized by Belgian justice in 2016 from the daughter of a Belgian police officer who participated in the disappearance of the body of Patrice Lumumba.

“This moral responsibility of the Belgian government, we have recognized it and I repeat it again on this official day of farewell of Belgium to Patrice Emery Lumumba. I would like here, in the presence of his family, to present my apologies of the Belgian government for the way it weighed in on the decision to end the life of the country’s first Prime Minister”

Alexander De Croo, Belgian Prime Minister

in a speech

First Prime Minister of the former Belgian Congo which became independent on June 30, 1960 (the former Zaire, today the Democratic Republic of Congo), Patrice Lumumba was overthrown in mid-September 1960 by a coup d’etat. He was executed on January 17, 1961 with two brothers in arms by separatists from the Katanga region (south), with the support of Belgian mercenaries.

African hero

Perceived as pro-Soviet by Washington in the midst of the Cold War, considered a threat to Western economic interests in the Congo, he acquired after his death the stature of an African champion of anti-imperialism.

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This restitution, which will be followed by the return of the coffin to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), scheduled for the night of Tuesday to Wednesday, should finally make it possible to erect a place in memory of the national hero in Kinshasa. three days of “National mourning” are scheduled in the DRC from June 27 to 30, the scheduled date of the burial ceremony in Kinshasa, the day of the 62nd anniversary of independence.

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