A group of legal activists has formally requested war-crimes charges against a dozen Belgian government officials and military officers widely suspected in the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, Congo’s first democratically elected prime minister. Lumumba headed Congo’s largest political party and became leader when Belgium granted independence to the country on June 30, 1960 after a century of colonial rule. Many in the West viewed the charismatic prime minister as a dangerous radical because he wanted to nationalize the new nation’s lucrative, Belgian-owned gold, copper and uranium mining industry. Historians generally agree that top Belgian officials and officers conspired to overthrow him, and that they organized and carried out his execution on Jan. 17, 1961. The death ushered in the long, corrupt dictatorship of Congo’s Western-backed leader Mobutu Sese Seko, who was finally overthrown in 1997. Next week, Belgium’s king Albert II will join the celebrations of the beggared and corrupt country for its golden anniversary of independence.
Edit: Louis Michel of the Walloon liberals calls Leopold II a hero. Leopold II (see picture) was one of the most brutal colonial rulers of the 19th century (article in dutch)