Belgium Returns Gold Tooth of Assassinated Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba to His Family
Patrice Lumumba was the DRC's first Black Prime Minister and was only in office for a few months before he was overthrown in a military coup and later assassinated.
"I can't say it's a feeling of joy, but it's positive for us that we can bury our loved one," his son Roland Lumumba said at the ceremony. "His soul will be able to rest in peace. It's important for us."
Lumumba rose to prominence as a pan-Africanist in the late 1950s in the Belgian Congo as a leader pushing for independence from the European nation. He eventually became the first Black Prime Minister of the newly minted Democratic Republic of Congo, or DRC, in 1960.
Once in office, Lumumba immediately faced problems with Western governments like the United States as he favored socialism. This Cold War-era fear led Western governments to believe Lumumba was forming an allegiance with the Soviet Union which would allow Moscow to have access to Congo’s uranium, The Guardian reported.
Lumumba also faced issues at home; there, he was thrown from office in a military coup and jailed.
In 1961, Lumumba was assassinated by firing squad and then buried in a shallow grave. He was later be dug up, transported 125 miles and interred again. He was later exhumed for a second time and then dismembered before his remains were dissolved in acid, BBC reported.
He was 35 at the time of his assassination.
The CIA also reportedly laid plans to kill the politician while in office.
Forty years after his assassination, Belgium finally acknowledged that it bore “moral responsibility” for his death.
His death was covered up for decades and then finally in 2000, Belgian Police Commissioner Gerard Soete confessed that he had dismembered Lumumba’s body and dissolved the remains in acid, according to The Guardian.
Soete also confessed to a German news organization that he had two teeth that he said had belonged to Lumumba. In 2016, Belgian police seized the teeth, including the gold tooth that was returned to his family Monday, The Guardian reported.
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