Suspect arrested in deaths of 2 U.N. investigators and interpreter

The bodies of American Michael Sharp, Swedish national Zaida Catalan and interpreter Betu Tshintela were discovered late last month in a shallow grave in the Central Kasai province. Image source: Congo Research Group
The bodies of American Michael Sharp, Swedish national Zaida Catalan and interpreter Betu Tshintela were discovered late last month in a shallow grave in the Central Kasai province. Image source: Congo Research Group
The bodies of American Michael Sharp, Swedish national Zaida Catalan and interpreter Betu Tshintela were discovered late last month in a shallow grave in the Central Kasai province. Image source: Congo Research Group

A suspect has been arrested in connection with the deaths of an American and a Swedish investigator for the United Nations and their interpreter, a Congolese military official said on Friday.

Two suspects were originally arrested, although one subsequently escaped.

Major General Joseph Ponde Isambwa made the announcement in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital, Kinshasa.

In the news conference, General Isambwa identified one of the suspects as an “insurgent” named Daniel Mbayi Kabasele, but did not disclose additional details. He also declined to say how the other suspect had been able to escape, though he stated that the four police officers responsible for guarding the pair had been arrested.

The bodies of American Michael Sharp, Swedish national Zaida Catalan and interpreter Betu Tshintela were discovered late last month in a shallow grave in the Central Kasai province.

Their mission had been to look into alleged human rights violations by the Congolese army and local militia groups. It was reported that three other local members of their team are still missing.

It was the first recorded disappearance of international workers in the Kasai provinces, where at least 400 civilians have been killed since August amid a rebellion loyal to former traditional leader Kamwina Nsapu.

The United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres had cause to condemn the murders. The U.N. vowed to conduct an inquiry with Guterres saying the world body would do “everything possible” to bring justice in the case.