DRC: Military court sentences 51 citizens to death over the death of two UN experts

A military court in the Democratic Republic of Congo has sentenced 51 people to death over the death of two UN investigators in 2017. Judgement for the mass trial was declared on Saturday, January 29th, 2022. Whilst some of the accused represented personally, some were in absentia.   

The two UN experts, Zaida Catalan, a Swede, and Michael Sharp, an American, died as a result of the activities of Kamuina Nsapu armed group.

According to reports, the two were investigating violence in the Kasai region of the resource rich country before the incident occurred. Consequently, dozens of people were convicted and trial commenced.

Several charges were pronounced, ranging from “terrorism”, “murder”, “participation in an insurrectional movement” and “the act of a war crime through mutilation”.

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Initially, 54 people were accused of the crime. 51 were found guilty by the military court and sentenced to death. The Prosecutor’s report says 22 out of the 51 who are fugitives were tried in absentia.

Despite the pronouncement, the death sentence may not hold because the Democratic Republic of Congo like many other countries have declared moratorium on executions since 2003. As a result, most of the death sentences are converted into life imprisonment.

The death of the investigators was condemned by many concerned Africans and political pundits; however, the mass sentences, especially of people who have not been cross-examined at all highly attracted criticism. From comments monitored by EyeGambia, critics say the government did so to please the West. What is your view?

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