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Bringing justice to victims of international crimes

Denis Sassou Nguesso

Investigations underway
In January 2007, the French Court of Cassation quashed a decision which had annulled proceedings before French courts; investigations are ongoing

Denis Sassou Nguesso was born in 1943 in Edou in the north of the country. After completing his secondary school studies in Loubomo, he joined the Army in 1960, just before the country was granted independence. In 1968, being a supporter of President Marien Ngouabi, he joined the ranks of the only party, the Congolese Workers Party (PCT). In 1975 he was appointed Minister of Defence. From 18 March to 2 April 1977, Denis Sassou Nguesso assured the interim presidency after the assassination of the President of the Republic Marien Ngouabi. In 1979, he was elected President of the PCT at its Congress on 5 February and thereby also became the new Head of State. On 2 June 1992, as a candidate to his own succession in the presidential election, he came in third, behind Pascal Lissouba and Bernard Kolélas. It was around this time that he created the militia group, called the “Cobras”. Between 1994 and 1996, he fled for safety to Paris with his family.

In January 1997, with a view to the presidential elections foreseen for June, Denis Nguesso returned to the Congo. On 14 October 1997, with the help of the Cobras, he took control of Brazzaville, forced Lissouba from power and was installed as President of the Republic on 25 October 1997.

In the affair known as Brazzaville Beach (the name given to the river port of Brazzaville), the following facts were established according to Congolese courts. During the years 1998-1999, Brazzaville and its surroundings were prey to multiple conflicts which pitted the regular troops of the Congolese armed forces against politico-military groups known as the Ninjas. These non international conflicts led to the exodus of many people to the Democratic Republic of Congo. In order to put an end to the multiple sufferings being endured by the Congolese refugees in the DRC, the governments of the two Congos and the High Commissioner for Refugees concluded a tripartite agreement aimed at facilitating the voluntary repatriation of those Congolese forced into exile as a result of the armed violence. With this agreement in mind, between 5 and 14 May 1999, 6599 refugees coming from Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, voluntarily decided to cross the river Congo, towards Brazzaville Beach. According to several witnesses, the security disposition set up to receive them at the Brazzaville port was made up of several diverse undisciplined military units. As a consequence, after police formalities were accomplished, certain of these refugees, for unexplainable reasons, were detained, many of them to disappear without trace even until today.

According to the indictment, at the river port known as Beach and the Yoro, these refugees, were split up into separate groups: soldiers, women, able bodied-and especially young- men. The latter were reportedly, taken out of the line-up, to be led off to premises at the Brazzaville Beach before being subsequently transferred to secret locations from which, thereafter, they simply disappeared. From sources close to the relatives of the victims, those missing persons were said to have been transferred to the Headquarters for Military Intelligence (French acronym DRM) and to the Presidential Palace in the Plateau district, in the town centre. The DRM subsequently informed the relatives of those missing that they had detained only the soldiers who had been intercepted at the Beach

On 7 December 2001, a complaint was lodged in France which expressly implicated Denis Sassou Nguesso in the affair.

Trial Watch would like to remind its users that any person charged by national or international authorities is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Fact sheet

Congo-Brazzaville 2017 2017  - 2017 2017  - 2017
Crimes against humanity
Enforced disappearances
Deprivation of liberty

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