NEWS: DR Congo
The DR Congo sentences to death those responsible for the murders of UN experts.

Dozens of mili­ti­a­men have been sen­tenced to death in the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Repub­lic of Con­go for their involve­ment in the mur­der of two UN experts.

Swedish-Chilean Zai­da Cata­lan and Amer­i­can Michael Sharp were kid­napped and killed in the Kasai region in 2017.

They were inves­ti­gat­ing sus­pect­ed mass graves after fight­ing broke out between gov­ern­ment forces and a militia.

Their inter­preter, Betu Tshin­tela, was also killed. Their bod­ies were found 16 days after their abduction.

The UN was shocked by the killings and at the time, and Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al António Guter­res said the orga­ni­za­tion would “do every­thing pos­si­ble to see jus­tice done”.

Hun­dreds of peo­ple have died in the Kasai con­flict that end­ed in 2017. More than a mil­lion peo­ple have been dis­placed by the fight­ing, which began after a tra­di­tion­al leader, Kamwina Sapu, was killed in August 2016.

The guilty ver­dicts were hand­ed down by a mil­i­tary tri­bunal after a four-year trial.

Of the dozens of defen­dants, 51, almost all mili­ti­a­men, were sen­tenced to death. But as DR Con­go has declared a mora­to­ri­um on exe­cu­tions, the sen­tences will like­ly end up being life imprisonment.

They had faced var­i­ous charges, rang­ing from ter­ror­ism and mur­der to an act of war crime and muti­la­tion, reports the AFP news agency.

Colonel Jean de Dieu Mamb­weni, who was sen­tenced to 10 years in prison, was charged with vio­lat­ing orders. Two oth­ers — a jour­nal­ist and a police­man — were acquitted.

How­ev­er, Human Rights Watch says this tri­al did not reveal what real­ly hap­pened. He wants anoth­er inves­ti­ga­tion to find out if the orders to kill the UN inves­ti­ga­tors came from high­er up the mil­i­tary chain of command.

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