IN ENGLISH: Aftonbladet reveals new information about the murders of Zaida Catalán and Michael Sharp
Av: Staffan Lindberg
The Congolese government has accused a local militia of the murders of the two UN experts Zaida Catalán and Michael Sharp.
Aftonbladet can now present exclusive video material from the trial - and reveals new information that raises serious doubt about the official version.
The Swedish UN expert Zaida Catalán, 36, was killed along with her American colleague Michael Sharp, 34, near the village of Moyo Musuila south of the city of Kananga in the Democratic Republic of Congo, on March 12 this year.
The Congolese government quickly blaimed a local militia for the murders. The United Nations also consider the militia to be the likely killers in an August report.
A dozen men now stand trial in a military court in the city of Kananga, the capital of the province of Kasai-Central.
Aftonbladet has investigated the case of the two murdered UN experts for four months, and has travelled to the Kasai region in August-September. We can reveal exclusive and previously unseen video footage from the trial.
The images show the prosecutor's main witness, Jean-Bosco Mukanda, pointing out one of the suspects, Evariste Illunga Lumu, on July 21. Further, they show the suspects being taken to the alleged place of the murders on August 24.
In a long report, Aftonbladet can also present new pieces of information that all question the official version of who is to blame for the murders.
Jean-Bosco Mukanda changes his testimony
The trial relies heavily on the testimony of key witness Jean-Bosco Mukanda. A man who presented himself as a primary school teacher from Bunkonde. Mukanda states that he was on the scene of the crime in the village of Moyo Musuila and that he witnessed Evariste Illunga Lumu with Zaida Catalan's head directly after the murder. In court, he claims that he immediately contacted two local journalists by sms to let them know what he had seen, one at Radio Télévision Chrétienne and one at Kasai Horizon.
However, both of the mentioned journalists categorically deny this. They say that the main witness contacted them only three days after the murder and that it was clear that he didn’t come with first hand information and that he had never been to Moyo Musuila himself on the day of the murders. By that time, the information about the murders was already coming from other sources.
– If he claims that he was in Moyo Musuila on the day of the murders, he lies, one of the journalists, José Mbuyi, said.
In a recorded interview with Aftonbladet, Jean-Bosco Mukanda admits that he has worked as an informant of the government prior to the killings. He fails to explain why he has changed his story about contacting the two journalists, but persists that he was in Moyo Musuila on the day of murder.
Zaida Catalán’s secret meetings with MP
Ten days before her death, Zaida Catalán told a Swedish friend in an text message conversation that she was going to meet a high level politician in Kinshasa for dinner and that she was afriad of never coming back from the dinner. Aftonbladet can reveal that the politician was the Kasai member of parlament Martin Kabuya, who is close to the former minister Clement Kanku. Kabuya refused to answer Aftonbladet's questions when contacted.
Accusations of political interference in trial
The murder trial in Kananga has started without all suspects being identified and arrested and without the bodies of the Congolese companions found. Aftonbladet has learned that the military court in Kananga has received political orders from the Congolese government: to speed up the trial as much as possible. This is confirmed by one of the accused men's lawyers, Moise Bibuwa.
– This trial is not like any other trial I've ever worked in. Everything is rushed. The authorities want to get the whole process of the killed experts over and done with, he said.
Politician paying secret motorcycle driver
A witness tells us that he saw a member of the provincial parlament, Daniel Mbayi, outside Zaida Catalan’s and Michael Sharp’s hotel on the evening of March 11th this year. The politician, who is close to the former minister Clement Kanku, was seen handing over a sum of cash to an unknown driver. Aftonbladet has been in contact with Daniel Mbayi, who refuses to comment on the incident.
The identity of the third driver who left Kananga with Catalán and Sharp on March 12 remains unknown. Aftonbladet has spoken to several people, including local journalists and members of the other two drivers’ families, who have done extensive research in trying to identify him, without any success.