Suspect in DR Congo murder of UN experts arrested

KANANGA (AFP) – One of the main suspects in the murder of two United Nations (UN) experts probing mass graves in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been arrested after a three-year manhunt for the militia chief, officials said on Sunday.

UN specialists Zaida Catalan and Michael Sharp, a Swedish woman and an American man, were murdered in March 2017 in Kasai-central province.

They had been investigating mass graves dug in a conflict between Congolese security forces and “Black Ant” rebel fighters in the central region of the DRC.

The head of the local military prosecutor’s office told AFP that the suspect, Tresor Mputu Kankonde, was arrested last Saturday and was under interrogation.

“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.

The European Union (EU) Ambassador to Congo 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”.