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Belgium returns Mr Lumumba’s tooth to Congo

Belgium has returned the still existent human remains of Congo’s first prime minister, Patrice Lumumba, to the Congolese authorities and his family.  One of Mr Lumumba’s teeth was handed over to the Congolese premier Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde Kyenge by Belgian premier Alexander De Croo.  At a ceremony at the Egmont Palace in Brussels the remains were then handed over to Mr Lumumba’s children.

Mr Lumumba’s remains return to Congo 61 years after his murder.

The tooth was contained in a small blue casket that was handed over to the family during the ceremony.

Prime Minister De Croo spoke of the moral responsibility in the events leading to the politician’s death borne by several Belgian government ministers.  The premier said there was no formal evidence to prove that Belgian ministers, diplomats, civil servants or soldiers had any intention of allowing Mr Lumumba to be killed, but they should have realised that moving him to the Congolese region of Katanga endangered his life. “They should have sounded the alert and refused all help in taking Mr Lumumba to his place of execution. They decided not to do so”.

Two decades ago following the results of a Belgian parliamentary commission of enquiry the then foreign minister, Louis Michel, voiced regrets for the moral responsibility of government ministers at the time in the events that led to the murder. Mr De Croo today offered an apology on behalf of the Belgian government.

Congolese premier Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde Kyenge said the handover signalled the start of a new relationship between the two countries, while Juliana Lumumba, the murdered premier’s daughter spoke of the many questions that still remained: how, where and when did Mr Lumumba die?

After the ceremony a hearse with Mr Lumumba’s coffin drove to the Congolese embassy in Brussels where a book of condolences is now open.

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