Son of murdered Congolese hero seeks answers from Belgium

27th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

A son of assassinated Congolese independence hero Patrice Lumumba on Sunday called for "clarification" of the circumstances of his father's death, saying it was needed to boost ties with former colonial ruler Belgium.

Francois Lumumba said in a letter that he hoped a visit by Belgian King Albert II this week would "help boost Belgian-Congolese cooperation," as his father had hoped for before he was killed in 1961.

"We are convinced that in order to achieve that, the circumstance of the assassination of our leader must be clarified, on the basis of transparent justice," he said in a statement sent to the Belgian news agency Belga.

King Albert arrives Monday in Kinshasa for ceremonies to mark 50 years of independence.

Lumumba, who heads the Congolese National Movement-Lumumba (MNC-L), and other members of his family, plan to file war crimes charges against 12 Belgians they suspect of involvement in their father's assassination.

The 12 Belgians were allegedly in the Congolese province of Katanga when Lumumba was killed there on January 17, 1961.

Lumumba was the first democratically elected prime minister of Congo after it gained independence from Belgium on June 30, 1960.

He was murdered by Katanga officials in September 1960 after Joseph-Desire Mobutu took power in a coup. The country, now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo, was renamed Zaire by Mobutu.

A Belgian parliamentary inquiry concluded in 2001 that Belgium had a "moral responsibility" in Lumumba's assassination and the government apologised to its former colony, but no legal action was taken afterwards.

© 2010 AFP

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