Congo court sentences 12 to life for child rapes, murder

A military court in eastern Congo has sentenced a dozen militia members, including a lawmaker, to life in prison for the rapes of more than 46 children as young as 11 months old.

Human rights organizations have called the trial groundbreaking in a country where sexual violence is rampant and perpetrators often go unpunished. Dozens of armed groups are active in the mineral-rich nation.

The court in Bukavu on Wednesday also convicted provincial deputy Frederic Batumike for organizing the militia violence and for crimes against humanity that took place for years in Kavumu starting in 2013. The village is 25 kilometers (15 miles) north of Bukavu.

The court awarded $5,000 to each victim of sexual violence and $15,000 to the families of those killed.