Congo reports suspect arrested in killing of 2 UN experts

The suspected mastermind behind killing two United Nations experts in the Democratic Republic of Congo was arrested Saturday, according to authorities.

The bodies of United Nations workers, found in the Democratic Republic of Congo, were confirmed to be those of Zaida Catalan, left, and Michael Sharp, who were reported missing on March 12. Photos courtesy of Human Rights Watch/Twitter
The bodies of United Nations workers, found in the Democratic Republic of Congo, were confirmed to be those of Zaida Catalan, left, and Michael Sharp, who were reported missing on March 12. Photos courtesy of Human Rights Watch/Twitter

Congolese authorities said the man arrested, Constantin Tshidime Bulabula, is behind the slaying of Michael Sharp, of the United States, and Zaida Catalan, of Sweden, working with the U.N. mission to the DRC.
The two were last seen March 12 while investigating human rights abuses in the remote village of Bunkonde.

Catalan and Sharp were part of a mission known as the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of Congo, responsible for monitoring insurgent groups in the eastern part of the country. Their bodies were found 15 days later. Catalan had been decapitated.

According to a military spokesman, Tshidime Bulabula is chief of a town south of where the killings took place. He was taken into custody about 60 miles from his home, and has since been taken to Kananga along with another suspect, Tresor Mputu.

Human rights groups have suspected the government played a role in the killings and a UN inquiry in August could not rule out government involvement. The Congolese army denies involvement, saying the executioners are members of the Kamwina Nsapu militia.

Authorities say Bulabula is a member of the militia, which has been in war with Congolese security forces since mid-2016 after the death of its leader. Since then, about 5,000 people have died in the fighting and the UN identified mass graves across the province.

By Susan McFarland