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Prime minister apologizes and Belgium returns remains of Congolese leader Lumumba to family

04:34 21 June 2022 Author :  

The Belgian government on Monday returned the remains of Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba to his family and apologized for its predecessor’s involvement in his murder.

In a ceremony nationally broadcast on TV, Belgian chief prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw returned the remains, including a golden tooth and finger bones, to the family of Lumumba.

He thanked them for the legal action taken in order to restitute the relics because “without these steps, we would not be where we are today, allowing the justice of our country to move forward.”

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo also apologized for the pressure from the previous Belgian government on ending the life of the first Congolese prime minister and reaffirmed the country’s “moral responsibility” for Lumumba’s assassination.

He also admitted that “it is not normal that the remains of the Congolese founding father have been kept by the Belgian for six decades.”

Lumumba’s children were also received by Belgium’s King Philippe.

The ceremonial restitution comes only 10 days before Congo’s Independence Day as part of Belgium’s efforts to apologize for its colonial past and to renew relations with the African country.

The Free State of Congo was the personal property of Belgian King Leopold II from 1885 to 1905, it was then transformed into a colony under the Belgian state administration until the country declared independence in 1960.

Lumumba, an icon of Africa’s fight for independence, was assassinated in 1961 by a group of Belgian mercenaries.

In 1999, former Belgian police chief Gerard Soete admitted publicly to being involved in Lumumba’s killing and dissolution of his body in acid.

He also said that he kept his golden tooth and finger parts as “a kind of hunting trophy.”

Soete died a year later without being prosecuted, and the relics were only taken away from his daughter in 2016 after she showed them in a TV interview.

Lumumba’s daughter, Julianna, requested the restitution of her father's remains in 2020./agencies

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