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Congo court acquits army, police defendants of genocide charges

[JURIST] A majority of jurors in a Republic of Congo court have acquitted 15 senior level military and police officials accused of orchestrating the 1999 disappearance of over 300 refugees returning from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the Congolese city Brazzaville. Families of the victims brought civil and criminal charges against the officials, but no criminal charges were upheld by the jury, which found that none of the 15 defendants were "individually responsible for committing war crimes, genocide or crimes against humanity" and dismissed civil claims from the majority of the plaintiffs. The court did hold that the Congolese government [official website in French] must pay $18,500 (USD) to the families of 86 of the victims for the government's failure to "scrupulously organize safety measures" to protect the refugees. Counsel for the victims' families have indicated they plan to appeal the ruling to the Congolese Supreme Court within the statutory three day limit. IRIN has more.

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