Congo sentences 51 to death for UN killings | News | DW
At the end of a trial that lasted nearly five years, 51 people convicted of the murders of UN investigators Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalan were sentenced to death on Saturday by a Congolese military court.
Many sentences were handed down in absentia, as the suspects were never arrested or escaped.
Congo has observed a moratorium on the death penalty since 2003, so those on death row are likely to serve life sentences.
When were UN officials assassinated?
Sharp and Catalan were murdered on March 12, 2017 in the central Kasai region of Congo. They were on a field visit with representatives of Kamwina Nsapu, a militia active in Kasai whose customary leader Jean-Pierre Mponde was killed by Congolese army troops in August 2016.
Sharp was Swedish American and Catalan.
The two UN experts were investigating the violence in Kasai on behalf of the UN Security Council.
The Congolese government attributes the killings to members of the Kamwina Nsapu militia.
The government initially denied the involvement of state agents, but later a number of those responsible were arrested.
Colonel Jean de Dieu Mambweni was sentenced on Saturday to 10 years in prison for failing to assist a person in danger. A local immigration official, who had met Sharp and Catalan the day before their mission, was sentenced to death.
The military court acquitted journalist Trudon Raphael Kapuku and policeman Honoré Tshimbamba, who were arrested separately in 2018 and spent 4 years in prison.
Investigations “did not reveal the whole truth”
Human Rights Watch’s senior Congo researcher Thomas Fessy said “the investigation and this trial have not uncovered the full truth about what happened.”
“Congolese authorities, with the support of the UN, should now investigate the critical role senior officials may have played in the killings,” Fessy said in a tweet.
Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said on Twitter that investigations must continue.
“It is crucial that the investigation into the others involved continues to uncover more of the truth and bring justice,” Linde said. “We encourage the authorities to cooperate fully with the UN mechanism.”
sdi/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters)