DR Congo says bodies of escorts killed with UN experts are found
The Congolese minister for human rights said Monday that the remains of at least two people traveling with United Nations experts Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalan in the Kasai provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo when they were killed have been found.
Isaac Kabuayi, a motorcycle driver, and interpreter Bentu Tshinsela were among four people escorting the group when they were attacked on March 12, 2017. Sharp and Catalan’s bodies were found and identified later that month.
“The bodies of the escorts of Zaida Catalan and Michael Sharp were found,” Marie-Ange Mushobekwa told Actualite.CD in Kinshasa. “The FARDC prosecution is waiting to continue the examinations so that the names can be linked to the remains. This is a job that medical examiners will have to do to certify that the bodies found are indeed the bodies of the escorts of UN experts.”
To date, 19 people suspected in the Kasai atrocities have been arrested, she added, stressing that Congolese authorities are working closely with UN teams to establish justice. Mushobekwa said she has not received any complaints from international experts on the investigation into ongoing Kasai violence.
Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) based in The Hague, arrived in Kinshasa last week to begin an investigation into possible crimes against humanity. Bensouda is responding to a delegation of international human rights organizations who met with the ICC in February to press for an investigation into atrocities, particularly in the Kasai provinces.
UN officials including human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein also have made repeated calls for inquiry into Congolese violence exacerbated by President Joseph Kabila’s 2016 refusal to step down and the subsequent political crisis. Bensouda’s arrival comes just days after United Nations investigators say they discovered five new mass graves in the Ituri region, which has seen renewed ethnic violence.