Belgium: Apology For Lumumba Killing
February 6, 2002
World Briefing | Europe: Belgium: Apology For Lumumba Killing
The government expressed ''its profound and sincere regrets and its apologies'' yesterday for Belgium's role in the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, the first prime minister of its former colony Congo, in 1961. ''Some members of the government, and some Belgian actors at the time, bear an irrefutable part of the responsibility for the events that led to Patrice Lumumba's death,'' Foreign Minister Louis Michel told Parliament. He announced the creation of a $3.25 million fund in Mr. Lumumba's name to promote democracy in Congo, where the slain leader's son, François, leads an opposition party. Mr. Lumumba, a socialist who was a major figure in Congo's liberation from 75 years of Belgian rule, was overthrown after just a few months in office. He was killed, at the age of 35, while in detention. A Belgian commission that finished a two-year inquiry last year heard testimony that the assassination could not have been carried out without the complicity of Belgian officers backed by the C.I.A., and it concluded that Belgium had a moral responsibility for the killing. The C.I.A. has consistently denied responsibility.