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Yes, Belgium must return tooth of slain Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba

“A Belgian court has ruled that a tooth of murdered Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba should be returned to his family,” reads a Facebook post from 15 September 2020.

“The tooth is among the last remains of Lumumba, whose body was dissolved in sulphuric acid after his 1961 execution by firing squad.”

Facebook’s fact-checking system has flagged the post as possibly false. But this bizarre tale is true. 

No DNA test but authorities confident tooth Lumumba’s

Lumumba was the first democratically elected prime minister of what is today the Democratic Republic of the Congo, following the country’s independence from Belgium in 1960. In 1961, after a military coup, Lumumba was arrested and killed. 

For decades, questions of Belgium’s involvement in Lumumba’s death persisted. In 2001, the country acknowledged responsibility. Belgian police commissioner, Gerard Soete, confessed to dismembering Lumumba’s body and dissolving the remains in acid. In a documentary, Soete reportedly showed two teeth that he said had belonged to Lumumba. 

In June 2020, Lumumba’s daughter, Juliana Amato Lumumba, requested that her father’s remains be returned to the land of his ancestors. A court in Belgium has cleared the way for this to happen.

A spokesperson for the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office called it a “symbolic gesture” as there was no absolute certainty that the tooth was Lumumba’s. A DNA test would have destroyed the tooth, the UK’s Guardian newspaper quoted him as saying.

Several credible news sources have reported the court’s decision and the historical details of Lumumba’s death are well documented. – Africa Check


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