An informant for Congo’s intelligence agency on trial for alleged involvement in the murders of two UN investigators died from a long-term illness, his lawyer said.
Swede Zaida Catalan and Michael Sharp, an American, were killed in March 2017 while investigating armed conflict in Democratic Republic of Congo’s Kasai region between government forces and the Kamuina Nsapu militia.
Jose Tshibuabua was charged with murder after Reuters and Radio France Internationale (RFI) revealed he worked as an intelligence service informant at the same time he and family with ties to the militia met the investigators to help them plan their fatal trip.
Tshibuabua, who missed several court hearings because of poor health, died in hospital from complications related to AIDS, his lawyer, Trésor Kabangu, told Reuters.
“His death is not a surprise to the court, which made sure it heard him and asked all necessary questions before his health deteriorated,” said Timothée Mukuntu, the top military prosecutor in Congo.
Tshibuabua (55) denied involvement in the deaths of the sanctions monitors, who were investigating conflict where UN and human rights groups accused Congolese forces of atrocities.
The trial, now with two dozen defendants, dragged on for over two years and questions remain unanswered, including the role other state agents may have played.
Another defendant in the trial died in prison last year. Another escaped from jail in May and has not been recaptured.