Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Archival Rescue 58 ~ Congo & Australia

Australian company implicated in war crimes;

Australian company accused of helping troops in massacre

By Meaghan Shaw June 7, 2005 Sydney Morning Herald

Federal Police will be asked to investigate allegations involving assistance given by an Australian mining company to troops implicated in the massacre of more than 100 villagers in the Democratic Republic of Congo last year.

A human rights lawyer intended to make a submission to the police force asking it to investigate possible crimes against humanity.

The ABC's Four Corners last night reported the company provided vehicles, a charter plane and a guest house to the Congolese army last October to quell an uprising by rebels in the town of Kilwa, 50 kilometres from the company's Dikulushi mine.

Witnesses reported troops using the company's vehicles to terrorise the town, killing and beating villagers and looting their houses. A secret investigation by the United Nations found more than 100 deaths, with at least 28 possibly the result of "summary execution".

The company's chief executive admitted the company provided vehicles and the use of a charter plane to ferry "80 or 100 soldiers".

"This was a military action conducted by the legitimate army of the legitimate government of the country," the executive told the program. "We helped the military get to Kilwa and then we were gone. Whatever they did there, that's an internal issue."

Concerning the troops' use of the company's vehicles, he said "So what?"

Richard Meeran, a lawyer with the firm Slater & Gordon, has been approached by lawyers for two non-government organisations in the Congo and Britain.

"If they provided assistance to the military for the purpose of carrying out this massacre, and they knew that that was going to happen, then they would be guilty of an offence under Australian law," he said.


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