DRC ar­rests army of­fi­cer over killing of U.N. mon­i­tors

Daily Nation Newspaper - - NEWS OF THE WORLD -

DAKAR - A Con­golese army colonel has been ar­rested in con­nec­tion with the killing of two U.N. sanc­tions mon­i­tors, a pros­e­cu­tor said yes­ter­day - the first mem­ber of the se­cu­rity ser­vices de­tained over the case.

Zaida Cata­lan, a Swede, and Michael Sharp, an Amer­i­can, were killed in March 2017 while in­ves­ti­gat­ing re­ports of atroc­i­ties dur­ing an armed con­flict in Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo’s Ka­sai re­gion be­tween gov­ern­ment forces and the Ka­muina Ns­apu mili­tia.

Con­golese au­thor­i­ties ini­tially blamed the mili­tia, ar­rested about two dozen al­leged fight­ers and charged them with in­volve­ment in the killings. The gov­ern­ment later said it could not ex­clude the pos­si­bil­ity state agents were in­volved.

Ti­mothee Mukuntu, the pros­e­cu­tor over­see­ing the case, said yes­ter­day that Colonel Jean de Dieu Mamb­weni had been ar­rested but no for­mal charges had yet been filed.

Calls to Mamb­weni’s phone did not con­nect and it was not im­me­di­ately clear if he was rep­re­sented by a lawyer. He has pre­vi­ously de­nied any role in Sharp and Cata­lan’s deaths.

The pros­e­cu­tor said Mamb­weni was ar­rested af­ter a ses­sion in the trial of some of the ar­rested mili­tia mem­bers on Thurs­day.

De­fence lay­ers at the hear­ing in the cen­tral city of Kananga said prose­cu­tors played an au­dio record­ing of what they said was the colonel meet­ing the U.N. mon­i­tors at his house two days be­fore their deaths.

In the au­dio recorded by Cata­lan, Mamb­weni was heard giv­ing the mon­i­tors the num­ber of a trans­la­tor for them to use on their mis­sion, and then call­ing the trans­la­tor him­self, two de­fence lawyers said.

Mamb­weni de­nied in court tes­ti­mony last month that he had in­tro­duced them to the trans­la­tor or played any part in the plan­ning of their mis­sion or their deaths.

De­fence lawyer Tre­sor Ka­bangu also said mem­bers of his team had re­quested that Congo’s In­te­rior Min­is­ter at the time of the killings, Em­manuel Ra­mazani Shadary, ap­pear in court to ex­plain ne­go­ti­a­tions he led with Ka­muina Ns­apu rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Shadary is now Pres­i­dent Joseph Ka­bila’s pre­ferred can­di­date to re­place him in the De­cem­ber 23 elec­tion. A spokesman for Shadary did not re­spond im­me­di­ately to a re­quest for com­ment.

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