Kinshasa – Two more people have been arrested for possessing a video of the 2017 killing of two United Nations experts in central Democratic Republic of Congo, the military prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday.
The video has become the focal point for a murder investigation that had been stalled, and the new arrests came as a journalist held in the case was moved to Kananga, the capital of Kasai Central province.
“The military prosecutor’s office have arrested two people – a lawyer who turned himself in to magistrates and a resident of Bunkonde, the village where the murder took place,” a senior prosecutor told AFP, declining to be identified.
He added that investigators were “now detaining the four people, whom we consider to be suspects.”
“We still need to know what happened for these four people to be in possession of this video almost immediately after the murder.”
Journalist Sosthene Kambidi, who has worked as a freelancer for AFP and Radio France Internationale (RFI) and at the Congolese online news site Actualite.cd in Kananga, was arrested in the capital Kinshasa on September 20.
Reporters Without Borders has expressed “deep concern” over his detention.
Kambidi’s lawyer Godefroid Kabongo told AFP that the journalist was taken to Kinshasa’s airport Tuesday to be transported to Kananga, which is the nearest city to Bunkonde village, the scene of the murders.
Kambidi’s wife Mimi Milolo confirmed that her husband had arrived in Kananga.
“He is at the military court at the moment,” she told AFP.
The fourth person detained over the video, videographer Israel Ntumba, was transferred to Kananga on Friday, a month after his arrest in Kinshasa.
The military prosecutor’s office accuses the four of “terrorism, criminal association and insurrection,” for which they face the death penalty.
American Michael Sharp and Swedish-Chilean Zaida Catalan had been hired by the United Nations to investigate violence in the Kasai region of central DRC. They were kidnapped and murdered in March 2017.
At the time, the authorities said the pair were killed by members of the Kamuina Nsapu rebel group, which was fighting government forces.
The conflict with Kamuina Nsapu left an estimated 3 400 people dead and tens of thousands displaced between September 2016 and mid-2017 in the Kasai region.
Around 30 people have been accused of taking part in the UN experts’ murder, but the trial that began in June 2017 has stalled and the UN has appointed a judicial expert to assist.