Last Updated: Wednesday, 09 July 2014, 13:04 GMT

MONUC Monthly Human Rights Assessment: January 2007

Publisher UN Mission in Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC)
Publication Date 20 February 2007
Cite as UN Mission in Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC), MONUC Monthly Human Rights Assessment: January 2007, 20 February 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/46caec9d1e.html [accessed 10 July 2014]

Human Rights Division / MONUC

20 feb. 07 – 12.13h

Summary: Violence erupted in Bas Congo on 31 January following clashes between members of the Bas Congo-based politico-religious movement Bundu Dia Kongo and PNC and FARDC in different areas of the province; Soldiers of the FARDC Integrated Brigades in Bunia staged a mutiny during the night of 11-12 January; Reports of 13 summary executions in Laudjo and Ladhejo villages in Djugu territory were received in Ituri; Soldiers of the Naval Force in North Katanga implicated in serious human rights violations; PNC officers implicated in a steadily increasing number of human rights violations, particularly in Kasai Oriental and Equateur; FARDC, FDLR, and Mayi-Mayi were responsible for increased insecurity and many human rights violations/abuses in North and South Kivu; High profile trials resumed during the month of January; trials of the Bavi and Kilwa massacres, of suspects in the killing of two MILOBs in Mongbwalu as well as the cases of Me Nlandu and Pastor Kutino; In the Kutino case, the Kinshasa/Gombe Military Court made a landmark decision restricting the jurisdiction of military courts over civilians for the first time.1

Main developments

1. Violence erupted in Bas-Congo following clashes between members of the politico-religious movement Bundu Dia Kongo (BDK) and PNC and FARDC in different areas of the province on 31 January and 1 February. These clashes took place after BDK had called on the population to observe a "journée ville morte" on 1 February to contest the results of the gubernatorial elections in Bas Congo. The Governor has set up six commissions of inquiry to conduct investigations into the incidents in Matadi, Boma, Muanda, Cataracte, Lukaya and Lukula. MONUC has dispatched a multi-disciplinary investigation team headed by the Human Rights Division to the different areas where clashes took place.

2. During the night of 11-12 January, around 250 soldiers of the FARDC Integrated Brigades based in Bunia (started by soldiers of the 1st Brigade and supported by the others) staged a mutiny and subsequently went on a rampage in the town. Gunshots and machine gun bursts were heard throughout the night and until early morning on 12 January. At least five women were reportedly raped during the night and several shops and houses looted. The mutiny was reportedly caused by a rumour which claimed that FARDC officials had misappropriated part of the soldiers' end of year bonus payments. Thirty-four of the mutineers have been indicted by the Office of the Military Prosecutor in Bunia.

3. Reliable sources have indicated that FARDC troops carried out several arbitrary executions in the villages of Laudjo and Ladhejo in Djugu territory – 50 km north-east of Bunia – at the end of December 2006. According to a local source, 13 civilians were arbitrarily executed and a number of others wounded by FARDC soldiers. Many houses were also allegedly set on fire in Laudjo-centre and other neighbouring villages. MONUC has not yet been able to verify the reports due to ongoing military operations in the area.

4. An increase in cases of rape has been reported in Ituri and in South Kivu during the reporting period. In Muguma – 90 km east of Mahagi (Ituri) – a soldier reportedly raped a female detainee accused of witchcraft three times on 21 January while taking her on foot from Mokumba to Apala, 10 kilometres apart, to his commander who needed to interrogate her. Two young women from Aru, one of whom is a minor, claimed to have been raped by the FARDC Deputy Commander in Kpandroma on 31 December 2006. The adult victim was allegedly raped in her room and the minor was placed in a white pick-up and taken to an area behind the FARDC camp.

In South Kivu, four women (including a Rwandan Hutu) were allegedly raped on 21 January 2007 in the vicinity of Katembo – 65 km north-west of Uvira. The four women were travelling together when they encountered a group of armed men wearing military uniform and speaking Kinyarwanda. They attempted to run away from them but were caught, mistreated and raped. Eight cases of rape were perpetrated in similar circumstances during the month of January. On 8 January, a 21-year-old old male civilian was allegedly the victim of acts of sexual violence committed by an FARDC soldier of the 11th Integrated Brigade in Ihusi – 74 km north of Bukavu in Kalehe territory.

5. The Kinshasa/Gombe Military Court made a landmark decision on 30 January when it declared itself not competent to rule on charges of criminal conspiracy (association des malfaiteurs) and attempted murder brought against three civilians (Pastor Kutino and his two co-accused) and ruled that they should appear before a judge in the civil jurisdiction as they were charged with common law offences.

However, it declared itself competent to rule on the charge of illegal possession of weapons ammunitions of war brought against Pastor Kutino because the Military Penal Code stipulates that military courts are competent to try persons who are not members of the army when they are accused of committing purely military offences. The Court also ruled that the request for bail on behalf of the accused must be introduced before the civil jurisdiction. The three men will remain in custody at the Kinshasa Central Prison (CPRK) until a ruling is made on their request for bail.

6. Five inmates, including a FARDC Captain serving a 20-year sentence for war crimes as well as a suspect in the killing of two MILOBS in Mongbwalu in May 2003, escaped from the Bunia Central Prison during the night of 12-13 January. They allegedly escaped by digging a hole in the prison walls. One of the five was later re-arrested.

FARDC soldiers were responsible for many human rights violations, particularly the right to life, physical integrity (rape and ill treatment of civilians) and the right to liberty and security of person (arbitrary arrest, illegal detention and abductions) in North and South Kivu and Ituri.

7. In Butembo, a civilian was fatally shot by FARDC soldiers during the night of 30-31 January in the Matembe neighbourhood, Vulamba Commune while participating in an auto-defence night patrol with other civilians from the neighbourhood. According to local sources, three FARDC soldiers came in the neighbourhood toward the end of the day. Worried by their unusual presence in this area, the population organised a patrol. When the patrol came upon the soldiers who were harassing the population during the night, they tried to arrest them but the soldiers shot at them killing one of them.

8. FARDC soldiers deployed in Katana – 45 km north of Bukavu – subjected the local population to nightly attacks of their homes, ill-treatment, rape and extortion between 11-16 January. During the night of 11-12 January, they allegedly broke into a local businessman's house, seriously beat him up and stole $220 and his mobile phone.

In a similar attack carried out during the night of 13 January, ten soldiers allegedly fired shots at a private residence, seriously wounded the owner's wife and looted the property. They also allegedly raped a woman the same night. The PNC had captured one of the perpetrators but his colleagues from the 11th Brigade forcibly extracted him from the holding cell.

9. Soldiers of the "Naval Force" in Northern Katanga were implicated in several cases of rape and other human rights violations as demonstrated in the following cases. A woman was allegedly raped by an officer of the FARDC Naval Force in Kalemie during the night of 1-2 January. The victim had allegedly accepted to go for a drink with the officer, believed to be a colleague and trusted friend of her mother. After drinking her beverage, the victim soon felt abnormally tired and lost consciousness. She allegedly woke up during the night, naked, in the bedroom of an unknown house. The woman was apparently drugged by the officer and raped while unconscious.

10. Still in North Katanga, an elderly woman was allegedly raped by an element of the "Naval Force" during the night of 12-13 January at her residence located close to Kabimba – 60 km east of Kalemie. The soldier allegedly arrived at the victim's home accompanied by another soldier claiming to be in search of a thief. After searching the house the soldier allegedly ordered the victim's husband to lead his colleague in the search of the so-called thief in the nearby fields. The husband was allegedly tied up, flogged and threatened with death by the other soldier. The perpetrator allegedly took advantage of the absence of the husband to rape the wife. The main perpetrator was arrested and transferred to a holding cell of the "Naval Force" at Camp Marin in Kalemie.

11. In North Kivu, a FARDC Lieutenant allegedly raped a 13-year-old girl on 4 January in his shop in the Ndosho neighbourhood of Goma. The victim allegedly responded to his call thinking that he wanted her to run an errand for him. As soon as the minor entered the shop, the perpetrator seized her and subsequently raped her. He was arrested on 13 January by the Office of the Military Prosecutor but released two days later, reportedly with the complicity of an OPJ who was later arrested.

12. Still in North Kivu, on 17 January, in Nzenga – approximately 40 km east of Beni, three soldiers from the 822nd FARDC Battalion based in the village of Mutwanga – 45 km east of Beni – allegedly raped a 13-year-old girl and then abandoned her in the bush close to her home. The police and military justice officials are currently in search of the perpetrators.

13. Also, in Kabimba – 60 km east of Kalemie – on 13 January, a group composed of two officers of the Kabimba Batallion of the Naval Forces and of eight civilians, arrested a civilian on his way back from work and forced him to undress before severely beating him. The victim had serious injuries on the lower part of his body. The perpetrators extorted all his belongings from him, including a significant amount of gold.

14. FARDC troops from the 223rd Company of the 2nd Integrated Brigade deployed in Vurondo, Kalemba and Rwahwa – area approximately 20 km north-west of Butembo – to repel attacks by Mayi-Mayi combatants operating in the area, allegedly committed many serious human rights violations resulting in massive displacement of the local population. According to eyewitnesses, soldiers who were aboard a FARDC truck that broke down in Vurondo on 11 January, allegedly systematically looted the villages of Kalemba and Vurondo as well as several houses in the village of Rwahwa.

15. In Butembo armed men in military uniform, believed to be soldiers of the FARDC 2nd Integrated Brigade, have allegedly continued to commit acts of extortion on the local population at night, an operation commonly referred to as "Opération 19 heures".

PNC agents have been implicated in a steadily increasing number of human rights violations during the month of January

16. During the night of 28-29 December 2006, a PNC officer allegedly summarily executed a male resident of Kingasani, Kimbanseke Commune, Kinshasa, while patrolling the area. The perpetrator reportedly ordered the body to be taken to the Kinshasa General Hospital. The alleged perpetrator has reportedly gone into hiding. The Office of the Military Prosecutor in Ndjili is conducting investigations into the case.

17. In Ituri, it is alleged that on 6 January 2007, the police chief in the village of Sota – approximately 50 km south of Bunia – and one of his assistants subjected a detainee to cruel and inhuman treatment which subsequently resulted in his death. The assistant was arrested and later transferred to the PNC Headquarters in Bunia. The commander is reportedly on the run.

18. A policeman from the Feshi police station (Bandundu Province) allegedly shot a 60-year-old woman in Lufuko – 216 km south of Kikwit – while delivering a summons to her daughter. The victim succumbed to her injuries four days later at the local hospital. According to a reliable source, the woman's 20-year-old daughter had allegedly been raped by a policeman on 6 January while in detention at the Feshi police station. After her release the young woman returned to her village in Lufuko to inform her parents of the incident who then filed a complaint with the police commander.

Three policemen, including the one who had raped the young woman, were sent to deliver a summons to her in connection with her complaint. It appears that there was a heated exchange between the policemen and members of the victim's family. At that point, one of the policemen, for reasons not yet determined, shot the elderly woman as she was coming out of her front yard.

19. In Mbuji Mayi, during the month of January, a number of armed robberies and other human rights violations were allegedly committed by men wearing the PNC uniform. During the night of 9-10 January, five men, three of whom were allegedly dressed in the PNC uniform, broke into the home of a businessman in the Commune of Diulu, demanded that he hand over $1,000.00 to them and then shot him at point blank range twice in the chest and once in the right hip when he refused to do so. Policemen from the Western District carried the victim to the local hospital two hours later where he subsequently died of his injuries.

20. During the night of 13-14 January, three armed men, one of whom was dressed in the PNC uniform, allegedly shot dead a diamond dealer at his residence located in the commune of Bipemba in Mbuji Mayi in front of his wife and children. One of the assailants reportedly stated that their sole mission was to kill the victim.

21. During the early hours of 18 January, 20 armed men, some wearing PNC and FARDC uniforms and others in civilian clothes allegedly broke into the home of a businessman in Tubondo neighbourhood of Mbuji Mayi. They allegedly shot him three times after he recognised some members of the gang and left him in a very critical state. They also allegedly took away an undetermined sum of money, 60 mobile phones, $620 worth of prepaid telephone cards as well as clothes and other personal effects.

22. In Equateur Province, during the night of 31 December 2006 to 1 January 2007, policemen from Businga who were called upon to reinforce their colleagues in Karawa – 200 km south of Gbadolite – reportedly committed several human rights violations, mainly rape, arbitrary arrests, torture and looting. On 17 December, the Karawa PNC had reportedly rescued a young man suspected of having killed the local sector chief from a group of villagers who were about to lynch him. The population reacted by destroying the local police station and burning the suspect alive. The actions of the Businga PNC agents on December 31-1 January appear to be a direct consequence of the 17 December incident.

23. In Bandundu Province, three policemen allegedly kidnapped and subsequently raped a 13-year-old girl from the Malebo neighbourhood between 28 December 2006 and 1 January 2007. The victim was allegedly kept at the home of one of the three perpetrators, had her hands tied behind her back and was blindfolded. She was allegedly left on the streets by the perpetrators. The Military Prosecutor arrested one of the alleged perpetrators and the other two are still at large.

24. In Kindu, a woman was allegedly raped by a police guard on 18 January in Kavuvu – 110 km north-east of Kindu – while she was detained at the local prison. Although the local police commander was informed of the incident, no measure has been taken against the alleged perpetrator.

25. In Maniema, 13 PNC agents reportedly mistreated a father and his daughter in Kibombo – 110 km south of Kindu – on 6 January 2007. According to a credible source, the incident was as a result of a dispute between the daughter and her husband, who is a police officer. Following the intervention of the father and the neighbours to help resolve the dispute, the husband reportedly called on his fellow officers for assistance. The two victims received several blows to the head and other parts of their bodies and were subsequently admitted to the local hospital.

26. Still in Maniema, a male resident of the village of Tchelu – 200 km south of Kindu – was arbitrarily arrested and later subjected to cruel and inhuman treatment by the PNC commander on 7 January 2007. He was reportedly arrested in place of his wife who had failed to repay a $10.00 debt to a local shopkeeper. The police commander reportedly ordered his men to beat the victim when he offered resistance. The man was released later that day after reportedly paying $145 to the police commander.

27. PNC agents in Mbuji Mayi were also involved in violations of the right to physical integrity. On 23 January PNC agents allegedly subjected a taxi driver to inhuman and degrading treatment close to the Nkashama round-about. The victim was stopped at a checkpoint and produced his papers when asked by the traffic police to do so. A policeman then asked him to pay 2,000 Francs. The victim explained that he did not have that amount of money on him. At that point he was pulled out of the car, slapped several times in the face and finally thrown to the ground. The policemen fled when a large crowd of onlookers approached their position.

28. Also in Mbuji Mayi, on 31 January, a driver was allegedly severely beaten up by traffic police officers known as "motards". The victim, who was driving back from Katanda, was allegedly stopped by the "motards", who asked him for money at the entrance of the Lubilanji Bridge in Mbuji Mayi. According to the victim, the police officers considered that the amount was not sufficient but he refused to give them more. The policemen then dragged him from the car and started beating him with their weapons and also kicked him before they took him to a holding cell. The victim was seriously injured on the head and showed visible signs of the beatings on his body. The commander of the judicial officers in charge of the holding cell justified the arrest by stating that the driver was not in possession of his license and other documents and refused to immediately release the victim.

29. On 22 January, two UDPS militants were allegedly subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment while in the holding cell of the "Police d'Investigation Criminelle" in Goma, North Kivu. The men were arrested in connection with statements they had written on a blackboard concerning the possible consequences of the negotiations that were held between the FARDC and renegade General Laurent Nkunda. The hands of one of the victims were swollen as a result of the beating he had allegedly received. The other victim had been severely flogged in the presence of a Colonel and then placed in a holding cell in his underwear only. The Prosecutor released both men on 23 January.

30. On 22 January, in Abira – 59 km south-west of Mahagi – a woman was allegedly subjected to arbitrary arrest, ill treatment and had her belongings extorted by a PNC officer of Kasengu – 48 km south-west of Mahagi. During her detention in Kasengu, the woman was seriously whipped by the police and kept in ragged clothes in a cell with three male detainees until she escaped on 29 January. The police officer also extorted 30.000 shillings from her.

31. During the night of 31 December 2006 – 1 January 2007, agents of the Mobile Intervention Group (GMI)2 in Gbadolite, allegedly subjected six detainees in the holding cell to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. On the orders of the local commander who was in a state of drunkenness, the six were taken out of their cell and severely flogged on their buttocks with batons, a treatment referred to as "Café de la bonne fête de l'année 2007".

Members of armed groups have continued to commit human rights abuses on the populations of North and South Kivu and in Ituri

32. On 16 January, two passengers on a truck travelling from Goma to the territory of Lubero were shot dead and seven others seriously wounded by armed men in uniform believed to be FDLR.

33. In Ituri, FNI militias were reportedly responsible for the killing of a Hema chief of locality in Sumbusu – 35 km south of Kwandroma – on 27 January after he refused to contribute to the collection for FNI rations.

34. In North Kivu, ADF/NALU combatants reportedly committed abductions, summary executions and forced recruitment of civilians in Beni territory in the vicinity of Makembi – 63 km north-east of Beni. On 31 January, seven civilians were reportedly abducted by ADF/NALU in Makembi. The assailants recognised one of the civilians and summarily executed him on the grounds that he allegedly was an informer for Congolese authorities. Two civilians were able to escape, another was released following an FARDC intervention and two still remain in detention. The civilian released following the FARDC intervention has allegedly confirmed that ADF/NALU is engaged in forced recruitment of civilians to reorganise its forces.

35. In South Kivu, abductions of civilians by Rwandan Hutu combatants resumed after almost three months of relative calm in the "collectivité" of Ninja, territory of Kabare – 75 km west of Bukavu. The last reported case was on 12 November 2006. Two new cases allegedly took place on 17 and 26 January 2007. Two young women who were about to get married were abducted and their dowry extorted in Irega (Luago) on 17 January. Nine civilians were abducted in the village of Kafukiro during the night of 27-28 January and reportedly taken to the Bishaka forest. The latest abduction took place following the refusal of the locality chief (chef de localité) of the village to pay the taxes requested by the Rasta group.

36. Still in South Kivu, a woman was allegedly abducted by Rwandan Hutu combatants on 10 April and kept in detention until 30 December 2006. The woman was abducted in her house in Miramade, in the vicinity of Kanyola – 55 km south west of Bukavu – and taken, along with other women and girls, to a military camp of Rwandan Hutu combatants in the Kalonge forest – 65 km north-west of Bukavu. Every day, combatants allegedly selected girls and women from the group and proceeded to rape them repeatedly. The victim escaped after nine months in detention.

37. In North Kivu, Mayi-Mayi combatants operating in the Vurondo area, territory of Beni, have created widespread insecurity in the zone, committing acts of looting and extortion, arbitrary arrest and illegal detention, abductions, resulting in a massive displacement of the local population.

ANR agents were implicated in several cases of human rights of violations

38. In North Katanga, the local ANR chief in Lunga, Nyunzu territory – 230 km north-west of Kalemie – allegedly arbitrarily arrested and detained two civilians on 19 January. According to the victims, they were also undressed in public and mistreated during their detention. The ANR agents extorted 10.000 FC from the victims before releasing them.

39. In Kyanzaba – 17 km west of Beni – a civilian was mistreated by ANR agents who arrested him after accusing him of stealing iron sheets from the roof of his employer on 23 January. It was the second time that the victim was arrested on these grounds and seriously mistreated. Previously arrested on 12 October 2006 by the PNC Commander of Kyanzaba for the same reason, his family had paid the amount of money requested by the Commander after the victim had been subjected to ill treatment. On 23 January, he was again seriously beaten with sticks, including on his genitals. Signs of these cruel, inhuman and degrading treatments on his body were observed on the victim's body.

40. A member of RCD (Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie), was arrested by ANR agents on 7 January at the Ruzizi border post because they reportedly found the number of Me. Azarias Ruberwa, former Vice-President of the Transitional Government, in his phonebook. It is alleged that they accused him of planning to recruit "Rwandan mercenaries" to attack the DRC. They reportedly demanded from $200 to $1,000.00 for his release.

In North Kivu wardens of the Virunga National Park were also responsible for human rights abuses

41. On 12 January 2007, a male resident of Mayangos – 12 km north-east of Beni – was shot dead by wardens of the Virunga National Park when they fired indiscriminately on a group of villagers. Hours before the killing, the villagers had arrested three men who were part of a group of 15 men reportedly being used by the wardens to carry out illicit farming activities in the Park. (Since December 2005, farming activities have been strictly forbidden). One of the three reportedly escaped and went to inform the wardens who reacted by shooting at the villagers in order to seek the release of the other men. Several persons were reportedly wounded. Two of the alleged perpetrators have been arrested and are currently detained at the Office of the Military Prosecutor in Beni.

42. Wardens of the Virunga National Park in the area of Kyavinyonge – 180 km south of Butembo – particularly in the village of Muramba – 12 km south of Kyavinyonge – allegedly subjected the villagers to regular harassment and intimidation, extortion, ill-treatment as well as abductions, arbitrary arrest and illegal detention, with full impunity. These violations are the direct consequence of an ongoing dispute between the villagers and the "Institut Congolais" pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) the body that is charged with the management of the park, over the boundaries of the park.

On 9 January, three women, one of whom was pregnant, were allegedly arrested, threatened and subsequently beaten with sticks by a group of five wardens. The women were accused of stealing fire wood from the park and were released a day later after their respective families reportedly provided the wardens with three goats.

Administration of Justice

43. The Kilwa massacre trial resumed before the Lubumbashi Military Court on 18 January and the hearing was dedicated to procedural matters that had been brought up at the last hearing on 27 December, among which was the decision to continue the trial despite the absence of two employees of Anvil Mining. However, on 19 January, the main accused rejected the presence of the Presiding Judge on the panel of judges, accusing him of partiality. The Court took note of the objection and a senior military judge from Kinshasa was appointed to conduct the hearing on this question.

44. At the 18 January hearing of the trial of the killing of MILOBs, the Court formally noted the absence of one of the accused who had escaped from the Bunia prison during the night of 12-13 January and ruled that he would be judged in absentia. During his closing statement, the Military Prosecutor requested life imprisonment for all the accused. At the 29 January hearing, the accused all claimed to be innocent. The trial will resume on 15 February after which the Court will adjourn to decide on the verdict.

45. At the 24 January hearing of Me Nlandu's trial, her lawyers introduced three petitions: (a) the appearance of three key defence witnesses (b) the granting of bail to the accused on medical grounds and (c) the rejection of the written statements made by the police because they do not give any indication of the type or origin of the grenades allegedly found in Me Nlandu's vehicle and also due to the fact that they were taken after the arrest of the accused in violation of both the military and civil criminal procedure codes. At the 30 January hearing, the Tribunal ruled that bail could not be granted because the detailed investigation into the case was already in progress.

46. On 30 January, the Presiding Judge of the Bunia Military Court conducting the Bavi massacre trial ruled that the charges of rape, looting and arson be added to the file. Two key witnesses were questioned and confirmed their previous statements. The FARDC commander of one of the witnesses was called before the tribunal but denied having been informed of the massacre by one of his subordinates. During that same hearing, a sergeant who was present in the audience was arrested on the spot after having been identified by one of the witnesses as one of the perpetrators of the massacre. During previous hearings, the Court heard testimonies of the different defendants and witnesses.

47. Death penalties were imposed by Military Tribunals this month in Bukavu, Kisangani and Goma. For example, in Goma, on 30 January, a corporal of the 8th Military Region was sentenced to death and to the payment of $20, 000 US in damages for summarily executing a civilian on 26 January. The corporal asked the victim, who worked in a shop, for cigarettes and alcohol and then shot him twice. The perpetrator was reportedly under the influence of alcohol and did not intend to kill the victim.

48. There have continued reports of police commanders who encourage parents of victims of rape to enter into out-of-court settlements with the perpetrators. The latest case was reported in Kananga, Kasai Occidental, where a police officer allegedly raped a 14-year-old epileptic girl during the night of 16-17 January on the pretext that he was there to treat her through traditional methods. The PNC commander allegedly advised the parents to accept a financial settlement when they turned up at the local police station to file a formal complaint.

Detention centres

49. One prisoner was shot dead and five others were seriously wounded as the inmates at the Bunia Central Prison attempted to break out on the morning 26 January. Quick action from the police, FARDC and MONUC brought the situation under control. The inmates allegedly dug three tunnels in order to make their escape. Two inmates escaped from the Central Prison of Aru in the District of Ituri in during the night of 28-29 January.


Endnotes:

1 Some of the incidents under investigation took place in December 2006.

2 Groupe Mobile d'Intervention.

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