A court in Belgium has ruled that a tooth taken from the corpse of Congolese independence hero Patrice Lumumba should be returned to his family.
An examining magistrate ruled on Thursday that Lumumba’s tooth could be given back, ruling in favour of the late statesman’s daughter, who in June called on the Belgian state to return her fathers remains.
Lumumba, who became Congo’s first prime minister after it gained independence from Belgium in 1960, was murdered in 1961 after he was abducted by separatist fighters.
In 2002, accounts of Belgium’s involvement in Lumumba’s murder that emerged in past years led Belgium to issue an official apology for its role in the death of the first prime minister of independent Congo.
Lumumba, whose tenure as the prime minister of independent Congo lasted less than three months, was overthrown and given up to Belgian-backed separatists militias, who executed him by a firing squad in 1961.
The British and American spy agencies are also believed to have been involved.
Lumumba’s tooth is thought to have been taken by a Belgian policeman Gérard Soete who was tasked with disposing of Lumumba’s corpse, he had sawed the man’s body into pieces and dissolved it in sulfuric acid, the Brussels Times website reports.
Soete, who died in 2000, was also shown in a German documentary revealing that the Belgian officer had wrung two teeth from Lumumba’s jaw and kept them, Le Soir reports.
It was later seized by the Belgian authorities, AFP adds.
The ruling on Thursday will allow Lumumba’s relatives to come collect what remains of the late Congolese leader, the Brussels Times website reports.