Assassination of UN experts in the DRC: three years of chaotic procedure

Zaida Catalan and Michael Sharp, UN experts murdered in the DRC. RFI

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It was three years ago today that one of the most chaotic trials in the Democratic Republic of the Congo began. The trial of the alleged killers of UN experts Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalan. On June 5, 2017, three months after their assassination, proceedings were launched before the Kananga garrison court with 14 defendants, then before the military court of the former Kasai Occidental with 40 accused persons. A trial highly criticized from the start and which, three years later and despite the appointment of a team of experts and a prosecutor by the UN, still threatens to get bogged down. 


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Rare fact, after the opening of the trial in 2017, one of the spokespersons of the Secretary General of the United Nations had questioned the credibility of the procedure: most of the defendants presented before the court had nothing to do with murder.

Even if officially the UN adopts the thesis of the Congolese authorities of the time through a report of an investigation committee, the main suspects of the United Nations police who work on their side all belong to the security services of the 'State or associated with it.

Under pressure, Jean-Bosco Mukanda, former militia leader and star witness for the trial, ended up on the dock, as did Jose Tshibuabua and Thomas Nkashama, two DGM inspectors; a colonel of the Congolese army, Jean de Dieu Mambweni, is also accused.

Read also : Three state agents on the dock

But several lawyers and even UN sources complain that several of the security officials cited have never been summoned or that many questions have never been raised. The most virulent critics point to a desire to make it a crime whose responsibility would only be local when some see it as a state crime.

But it is also a process which continues to be interrupted under various pretexts. This year, it is because of the lack of support for lawyers by the State or the Covid-19 pandemic. The President of the central Kasai pointed out in a report published on the eve of this anniversary to what extent these delays penalized the rights of the defense and regretted the absence of civil parties at this trial.

Also read  : "Congo Files": an inconvenient investigation in the DRC

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