The Egmont Palace is the setting for a historic event. In the presence of the Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and his Congolese counterpart Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde Kyenge, our country returned the remains, in fact, one tooth, of the former Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Emery Lumumba.
In Brussels, federal prosecutor Frédéric Van Leeuw handed over a blue box with Lumumba’s tooth to the family of the Congolese politician Lumumba in a private ceremony around 10 a.m. This is followed by an official ceremony in the presence of the family and political delegations. At 12 noon the hearse leaves for the Congolese embassy.
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Lumumba was the first prime minister of independent Congo. On January 17, 1961, just a few months after Belgium’s independence, he was executed by local soldiers in the breakaway Katanga in the presence of Belgian officers. Lumumba’s body, 35, was dissolved in sulfuric acid.
What remained was a tooth, which came into the possession of the Belgian agent Gerard Soete, who was present at the time. The tooth was seized from Soete’s daughter as part of a war crimes investigation opened in 2011 in Brussels.
“Congo returns to Congo”
For Congo, the return of the remains of the national hero is an important matter. “Congo is finally returning to Congo,” said Roland Lumumba, one of the children of the assassinated prime minister. The departure to Kinshasa is scheduled for tomorrow.
Afterward, the Congolese organize a tour of the coffin via, among other things, Lumumba’s native village Onalua and his political stronghold Kisangani. On June 27, the coffin returns to the capital, where the remains will be buried on June 30.