BRUSSELS — The sons of Congolese independence hero Patrice Lumumba said Tuesday they would seek war crimes charges against 12 Belgians they suspect of involvement in their father's assassination.
"It is a father I am looking for, a father whom I still love, and I want to know why he was killed," his youngest son, Guy Lumumba, told reporters in Brussels.
"We are targeting the assassins. In Belgium, there are 12 of them. They are alive and we want them to answer for their ignoble acts before justice," he said.
The sons will file a complaint accusing the 12 of war crimes in a Brussels criminal court in October, said Lumumba family attorney Christophe Marchand.
The 12 Belgians were in the Congolese province of Katanga when Lumumba was killed there on January 17, 1961, shortly after his transfer from Leopoldville, the former name of the capital Kinshasa, Marchand said.
He refused to name them, saying he will reveal their identities to the judge, but he said the suspects include Belgian officials, police officers and soldiers.
Lumumba was the first democratically elected prime minister of Congo after it gained independence from Belgium on June 30, 1960.
He was murdered by Katanga officials four months after Joseph-Desire Mobutu took power in a coup in September 1960. The country, now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo, was renamed Zaire by Mobutu.
A Belgian parliamentary inquiry concluded in 2001 that Belgium had a "moral responsibility" in Lumumba's assassination and the government apologised to its former colony, but no legal action was taken afterwards.
"The wounds of the past will disappear only when the truth comes out and justice is served," Marchand said.