DR Congo Court Set For Verdict In Murder Of UN Experts
Kananga, DR Congo, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 29th Jan, 2022 ) :A military court in Democratic Republic of Congo Saturday is set to pronounce a long-awaited verdict in a mass trial over the 2017 murder of two UN experts in a troubled central region.
Dozens of people have been on trial for more than four years over a killing that shook diplomats and the aid community, although key questions about the episode remain unanswered.
Michael Sharp, an American, and Zaida Catalan, a Swedish-Chilean, disappeared as they probed violence in the Kasai region after being hired to do so by the United Nations.
They were investigating mass graves linked to a bloody conflict that had flared between the government and a local group.
Unrest in the Kasai region had broken out in 2016, triggered by the killing of a local traditional chief, the Kamuina Nsapu, by the security forces.
Around 3,400 people were killed, and tens of thousands of people fled their homes, before the conflict fizzled out in mid-2017.
During the trial, prosecutors suggested that the militiamen had carried out the murders to take revenge against the United Nations, which the sect accused of failing to prevent attacks against them by the army.
If so, those who purportedly ordered the act were not identified throughout the marathon proceedings.
Among the main accused is a colonel, Jean de Dieu Mambweni, who prosecutors say colluded with the militiamen, providing them with ammunition. He denies the charges and his lawyers say the trial is a set-up.
Mambweni and 50 others face the death penalty, a charge that is frequently pronounced in murder cases but is routinely commuted to life imprisonment since DRC declared a moratorium on executions in 2003.
Prosecutors are demanding 20-year jail terms against three other defendants, saying they deserve a measure of leniency for having cooperated with investigators.