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Five people charged with the murder of a DR Congo official, Italian diplomat asks for acquittal

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During a hearing on Saturday in the nation’s capital Kinshasa, five of the six men accused of killing Italy’s ambassador to DR Congo in 2021 asked to be exonerated.

Former Italian ambassador to the DRC Luca Attanasio was one of three people who perished on February 22, 2021, when a UN convoy was ambushed in the unrest-ridden east of the nation.

Driver Mustapha Milambo and Italian police officer Vittorio Iacovacci were the other victims.

In October, a military tribunal in Kinshasa began investigating the killings.

The prosecution concluded its case on Wednesday and asked for the death penalty for the six defendants after several months of hearings.

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One man is still on the run, while five people are being held in jail in Kinshasa.

The defense made its final argument on Saturday, pleading with the court to drop the charges because there was insufficient proof that the defendants were involved.

When asked for a closing statement, each of the defendants assured the court that they were innocent.

In this case, the Italian government is taking part as a formally wronged party.

Italy’s attorney, Boniface Balamage, stated that Rome opposes the death penalty and would prefer prison terms.

Within ten days, the tribunal is anticipated to render a decision.

According to the UN, the DRC has observed a de facto moratorium on the death penalty since 2003, but judges still sentence people to death.

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Armed groups, many of which are left over from local wars that broke out in the late 1990s and early 2000s, prey on much of eastern DRC. In the unstable area, militia attacks on civilians are frequent.

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