DR Congo: 22 soldiers sentenced to death for fleeing rebels

A military court in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has sentenced 22 soldiers to death for deserting their posts during clashes with M23 rebels, according to a lawyer who spoke with AFP.

The sentences were handed down on Monday in the eastern province of North Kivu, a region plagued by ongoing conflict with the M23 rebel group. 

Sixteen soldiers received the death penalty in one case, while another six were condemned in a separate trial.

The harsh verdicts come as the Congolese military grapples with the M23 insurgency. 

The rebels, whom Kinshasa accuses Rwanda of supporting, have recently captured new territory in North Kivu, further destabilizing the region.

The use of the death penalty in the DRC military justice system has drawn criticism from human rights groups. 

It remains unclear whether the soldiers sentenced to death will have the right to appeal the verdicts.

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