Congo court sentences 51 to death over killing of UN experts

TEHRAN, Jan. 30 (MNA) – A military court in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has sentenced 51 people to death, several in absentia, in a mass trial over the 2017 murder of two United Nations experts in a troubled central region.

Capital punishment is frequently pronounced in murder cases in DRC but is routinely commuted to life imprisonment since the country declared a moratorium on executions in 2003, Aljazeera reported.

Dozens of people have been on trial for more than four years over the killings that shook diplomats and the aid community, although key questions about the episode remain unanswered.

Zaida Catalan, a Swede, and Michael Sharp, an American, were investigating violence between government forces and an armed group in the central Kasai region in March 2017 when they were stopped along the road by armed men, marched into a field and killed.

Their bodies were found in a village on March 28, 2017, 16 days after they went missing. Congolese officials have blamed the killings on the Kamuina Nsapu armed group.

Unrest in the Kasai region had broken out in 2016, triggered by the killing of a local traditional chief.

About 3,400 people were killed, and tens of thousands of people fled their homes before the conflict fizzled out in mid-2017.

RHM/PR

News Code 183410

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