Seeking Justice

04.13.1310:31 AM ET

Congolese Soldier Admits To Mass Rape Near Goma

Prosecutors pledge to punish those involved in the violence last year.

Last November, after a chaotic retreat from a battle with rebel fighters in Goma, thousands of Congolese soldiers arrived in Minova and began raping, murdering, and pillaging in local communities. "Twenty-five of us gathered together and said we should rape 10 women each, and we did it," a young Congolese soldier told The Guardian. "I've raped 53 women. And children of five or six years old." After the rampage, hundreds of rape victims sought out medical and emotional help, but an untold number never came forward to talk about the trauma. Now, the army is pledging to take action against the crimes of these units, promising to arrest soldiers and commanding officers. "This is where military justice is of the utmost importance. We have not hesitated to put in place the processes to arrest the soldiers who have raped and pillaged the civilian population in Minova," says Mokuta Amdondo, the military prosecutor in the region. But so far, only three arrests have been made. And outside of town, the head of a victim relief center laments that these promises rarely end with justice. "The government says it will arrest these soldiers," she says. "They may arrest some, but then later they will just set them free again."