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8 May 2013

Katrin Matthaei, Deutsche Welle (Germany)

German court investigates raid on Congolese village

German authorities are examining a case in which a German manager who worked with a timber company in the DRC is accused of allowing local security forces to carry out a brutal raid against Congolese villagers…About 60 police and soldiers raided the village. They beat up men and women, burnt down houses, bundled men on to trucks and beat them again before forcibly driving them to a police station in Bumba…The security forces were sent in by the Congolese timber company Siforco. The company says they called in the police to recover equipment which villagers had stolen two weeks previously…At the time of the raid, Siforco was the Congolese subsidiary of the German-Swiss group Danzer… [T]he European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and Global Witness…have brought charges against…[German Danzer Group manager Olof von Gagern]…arguing that he could have prevented the use of excessive force…The accused manager...has rejected all allegations...[Danzer sold Siforco to Blattner Group in February 2012]