Congolese officials say two people arrested at the weekend are leaders responsible for the high-profile deaths of United Nations experts in the volatile Kasais a year ago – including a man who appears in the video recording of their murders.
Vincent Manga, leader of the militia group Kamuina Nsapu, and an unnamed police officer are believed to have abducted and killed Michael Sharp, 34, of the United States and Zaïda Catalan, 36, of Sweden, according to the Actualite CD news outlet in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
They were arrested near Bunkonde, said Manix Kabuanga, the deputy governor of Kasai Central. It’s the same area where the bodies of Sharp and Catalan were found on March 27, 2017, two weeks after they disappeared along with Congolese aides while investigating human rights violations in the region.
A FARDC officer told local media that Manga appears in the video, which sparked controversy over whether Kamuina Nsapu militia members or Congolese security forces were responsible for the deaths. The newly arrested men were taken to a military camp at Bobozo and remained in FARDC custody.
Last April, journalists in DR Congo reviewed the video when it was made available by government officials. It appeared to implicate the Kamuina Nsapu, but contained some linguistic discrepancies that cast suspicion on the government story. The results of a subsequent UN investigation were inconclusive.
Previous arrests in the case include Constantin Tshidime Bulabula, the chief of the village where the U.N. experts died. At least seven others also faced military court proceedings that were suspended in October while awaiting further results from a UN investigation into the deaths.