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Belgium to return tooth of Patrice Lumumba to his family
The Belgian justice department is prepared to return the tooth of Patrice Lumumba to his family in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The tooth is one of two that was taken from Lumumba’s body by Belgian paramilitary police officers after he was assassinated in 1961.
The tooth is part of a judicial inquiry opened into Lumumba’s death in 2016. The inquiry is meant to establish the extent to which 12 Belgians contributed to the assassination of the Congolese independence leader and first democratically elected prime minister of DRC.
According to then police officer Gerard Soete, he and two colleagues were tasked with exhuming the body of Lumumba and the two politicians who were executed with him and moving them. A few days later, they exhumed Lumumba’s body for a second time in order to destroy it completely. It was then that they removed two teeth.
Letter to king
Soete produced the teeth in a documentary in 2000, the same year he died. One of the teeth was recovered in a search and seizure operation and is now in the hands of the Belgian state.
While the investigation into the role of the 12 men – two of whom are still alive – is ongoing, the justice department has agreed to release the tooth to Lumumba’s family. Lumumba’s son, Guy Lumumba, had asked for the return of the tooth – the only known remains of his father – earlier this summer.
King Philippe also received a letter from Lumumba’s daughter, Juliana Lumumba, in which she implores the Belgian king to return the tooth. Earlier this year, King Philippe issued an apology to the DRC for crimes and abuses committed against the Congolese people during the colonial period.
Photo: Guy Lumumba at the inauguration of Rue Patrice Lumumba in Charleroi in July