Suspect in DR Congo murder of UN experts arrested

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PIC COURTESY: HRW

One of the main suspects in the 2017 murder of two UN experts in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been arrested after a three-year search.

According to the local military prosecutor’s office that spoke to AFP, the suspect, Tresor Mputu Kankonde was arrested on Saturday and was under investigation.

“He is being prosecuted for several acts including the murder of UN experts. We have tried to arrest him many times since 2017 but he always got away,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Jean-Blaise Bwamulundu Kuzola.

UN specialists Zaida Catalana, a Swedish woman of Chilean origin, and Michael Sharp, an American man, were killed in March 2017 in Kasai-central province.

The two had been investigating mass graves dug in a conflict between Congolese security forces and ‘Black Ant’ rebel fighters in the central region of the country.

The European Union ambassador to the African country, Jean-Marc Chataigner, welcomed the militia chief’s arrest and said he hoped it would allow a revival of the probe into the pair’s death.

US Ambassador to DR Congo Mike Hammer called the arrest “a step forward in the pursuit of justice”, adding that America would “continue to support Congolese and UN efforts to uncover the truth. No impunity!”

The trial of the alleged killers of the experts opened three years ago and has not seen any real progress.

A Congolese security source told AFP that before Kandonde was arrested, he was in the progress of reorganizing the ‘Black Ant’ militia with a view to attack the city of Kananga.

The regional violence, which left around 3,400 people dead, was triggered in 2016 when security forces killed a tribal leader who was a prominent regional opponent of the Kinshasa regime.

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