BRUSSELS, June 20 (Xinhua) -- Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo on Monday recognized the "moral responsibility" of his country's authorities for the assassination in 1961 of Congolese politician and independence leader Patrice Lumumba.
"I would like, in the presence of his family, to present in my turn the apologies of the Belgian government," he said.
Lumumba served as the first prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) from June until September 1960. He was murdered by separatists and Belgian mercenaries the following year. His body was dissolved in acid and never found.
"It is a painful and unpleasant truth," De Croo said during a ceremony organized at the Egmont Palace in Brussels on the occasion of the restitution of Lumumba's remains.
Belgium's federal prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw handed over to Lumumba's family on Monday a box containing the slain leader's tooth -- his last remains.
The ceremony came only days after a historic visit to DR Congo by King Philippe of Belgium, which was billed as a chance to build new ties after atrocities committed during the colonial rule.
The Belgian Congo remained a colony until DR Congo gained its independence in 1960. ■