Sixty-one years ago, a firing squad formed of Belgian military officers kidnapped and executed Congo's Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, who is often hailed as the country's independence hero.
People take part a march to pay tribute to Democratic Republic of Congo's first prime minister and independence hero Patrice Lumumba before the departure of his last remains to DR Congo in Brussels on June 21, 2022. The march takes place a day after an official ceremony to return the slain Congolese leader's tooth -- all that is left of the anti-colonialist icon who was murdered by Congolese separatists and Belgian mercenaries in 1961. (Photo by Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP)
Following his death, Patrice Lumumba's body was dismembered and dissolved into acid, except for finger bones and one gold-coated tooth.
The tooth was kept by one of Lumumba's killers, former Belgian police chief Gerard Soete, who admitted in 1999 that he had stolen the tooth following the killing of Patrice Lumumba.
Patrice Lumumba's only remains - his gold-capped tooth - returned to family in DRC - 61 years after he was murdered, disinterred and dissolved in acid.https://t.co/evkfUM3Z4Q pic.twitter.com/aLwusvqaAQ— Lukwesa Burak (@LukwesaBurak) June 20, 2022
In 2016, Gerard Soete's daughter showed Lumumba's tooth to reporters during a press interview, 16 years after her father's death, which prompted Belgian academic Ludo de Witte to file a complaint calling on Belgian authorities to seize the tooth.
"We, Lumumba's children, call for the just return of the relics of Patrice Emery Lumumba to the land of his ancestors." - Juliana Amato Lumumba's letter to Belgium's monarch, Philippe.
Patrice Lumumba was assassinated, buried, excavated, cut into pieces, then pieces thrown into acid to hide the evidence of the crime. They told us we Congolese killed him in 1961. Today Belgium is returning his tooth without any criminal investigation. That’s a crime in itself! pic.twitter.com/vbipwhftmQ— #CongoIsBleeding (@kambale) June 20, 2022
In 2020, Patrice Lumumba's daughter, Juliana Amato Lumumba announced an official request by her and her family for Belgium to return her father's last remains, 59 years after his gruesome murder, considering it makes the only coffin they can have of him.
The coffin of Democratic Republic of Congo's first prime minister and independence hero Patrice Lumumba is carried away after a tribute ceremony at The Congolese Embassy before the departure of his last remains to DR Congo in Brussels on June 21, 2022. The tribute takes place a day after an official ceremony to return the slain Congolese leader's tooth -- all that is left of the anti-colonialist icon who was murdered by Congolese separatists and Belgian mercenaries in 1961. (Photo by Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD / AFP)
Yesterday, Patrice Lumumba's tooth was handed to his family members following several days 'of public events in honor of the former political leader who is considered Congo's most popular independence icon.
Patrice Lumumba was DR Congo's first prime minister.— DW News (@dwnews) June 20, 2022
He was murdered in 1961 and his body was dissolved in acid on orders from Belgian officers.
A gold tooth was all that remained, which was returned by Belgium to his family today.https://t.co/QmEN9hLWd0
Patrice Lumumba was executed by a Belgian firing squad in January 1961, nearly six months after his country gained independence from Belgium and after a historic speech he delivered in rejection of remarks made by King Baudouin of Belgium on the same day.