On June 21, 2010, a team of Belgian lawyers filed a complaint in a Brussels court against 12 Belgian officials accused of planning the January 1961 assassination of Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected leader of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Lumumba was killed following a military coup led by Colonel Joseph Mobutu in September 1960 and the complaint alleged that the failure of Belgian officials to intervene in his death constituted a war crime. The Belgian government publicly apologized in 2002 for playing a role in Lumumba's death. In recent years, Belgium has been active in seeking justice for war crimes committed in Africa working closely with both the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Court (ICC) to arrest suspected war criminals such as Jean-Pierre Bemba and Hissene Habre.
Belgian coat of arms
Learn more about Belgium, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the laws governing war crimes from the JURIST news archive.