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‘Whoever kills UN experts will be punished’

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Congolese President Joseph Kabila told world leaders at the UN General Assembly on Saturday that he would ensure those responsible for killing two UN investigators earlier this year would be punished.

Michael Sharp, an American who was coordinator of an independent sanction monitoring group, and Zaida Catalan, a Swede, were killed in central Congo on March 12.

They were killed while carrying out investigations for a report to the UN Security Council.

The bodies of Sharp and Catalan were found in a shallow grave two weeks later.

“We are determined to ensure that light is shed on the exact circumstances of this crime and to ensure that this horrendous act … will not remain unpunished.

“This is exactly what open public court processes have been working toward for several weeks now following the arrest of the majority of the suspects of these crimes,” he told the 193-member General Assembly.

Congolese authorities have arrested nine suspects in the killings but some western governments and rights groups are sceptical that the real masterminds have been identified.

An internal UN inquiry found that Sharp and Catalan were murdered by a group of Congolese, likely militia members from central DRC, but an absence of evidence “does not preclude the possibility that others are involved’’.

At a UN Security Council meeting in August, the United States, Britain, France, Sweden and Japan urged UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to establish a follow-up investigation to determine responsibility.

Guterres has said that he planned to discuss the establishment of a “follow-on mechanism’’ to the board of inquiry with Congo officials and council members.

“The most effective would be the integration of independent experts into the Congolese system. I do not know whether it will be possible or not.

“Otherwise, we will take our own initiative: our colleagues in the Department of Political Affairs are making all the necessary consultations to put in place the system that can be as effective as possible for the truth to be known,’’ he said.


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