‘Congo Files’ investigation raises new questions on UN expert deaths

Investigative reporting from an international team of journalists has raised new questions about who’s responsible for the deaths of two United Nations experts killed in Democratic Republic of Congo in March 2017.

The report was jointly conducted by Foreign Policy in the United States, French media outlets Radio France International and Le Monde, Sweden’s Sveriges Television, and Süddeutsche Zeitung in Germany.

Their findings on “deceptive diplomacy,” as Sveriges called it, are based on thousands of pages of UN documents, and the video footage of the deaths of Michael Sharp of the United States and Zaïda Catalan of Sweden. They suggest that the UN may have buried information to protect its relationship with Congolese authorities.

The bodies of Sharp and Catalan were found on March 27, 2017, two weeks after they disappeared along with Congolese aides near the village of Bunkonde, where the sanctions and armed groups experts were investigating human rights violations.

A video of their deaths released in April 2017 appeared to implicate Kamuina Nsapu rebels active in the Kasai provinces, some of whom are standing trial before a Congolese military court. Government officials made the video available to reporters in Kinshasa, stressing that the languages used by the attackers, as well as dress and manner, clearly identified them as Kamuina Nsapu militants.

Yet there have been questions from the outset about whether the Congolese government was covering up the actions of its own military, and the new investigation digs deeper into the evidence. It further questions the UN’s own investigation, led by U.S. official Gregory Starr and supported by a legal team under Canadian Robert Petit

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