The Belgian justice system has responded favorably to a request from the family of Patrice Lumumba to return a tooth of the Congolese leader assassinated in January 1961 in Congo, the Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office told AFP on Thursday. This tooth had been seized in the family of a Belgian policeman who had contributed to the disappearance of the body – never found – of the ephemeral Prime Minister of the former Belgian colony after independence on June 30, 1960.
This tooth is one of the pieces of the judicial file opened after the complaint filed in 2011 in Brussels by several children of Patrice Lumumba, demanding that the circumstances of the assassination be clarified. It will now “be returned to the beneficiaries” of Patrice Lumumba, Eric Van Duyse, spokesman for the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, told AFP.
He evoked a “symbolic” restitution in the absence of “absolute certainty” that this tooth belonged to the hero of independence. “There was no DNA analysis on the tooth, it would have destroyed it,” said Mr. Van Duyse.
In 2000, Belgian policeman Gérard Soete agreed to testify to AFP about his participation, some 40 years earlier, in the disposal of the body of Lumumba, who was murdered with two of his relatives in the then secessionist province of Katanga, near Elisabethville, now Lubumbashi.
“In the middle of the African night, we started by getting drunk to have courage. We spread the bodies apart. The hardest thing was to cut him up,” before pouring acid, explained the octogenarian, who has since passed away.