Congo rejects UN-led Kasai investigation - minister


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GENEVA, June 19 (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo's
justice minister said on Monday that his government would not
admit an independent investigation into violence in its Kasai
region which has been called for by a  top U.N. human rights
official.
    The U.N. Human Rights Council is likely to vote this week on
whether to authorise such an investigation into violence that
has killed hundreds in central Congo since last August,
including two U.N. experts who were murdered earlier this year.
    "Carrying out an investigation that excludes the Congolese
authorities would be unacceptable. It would be as if we were not
an independent country," Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba
told reporters in Geneva.
    U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein called on the
Council to mandate an investigation after Congo missed a
deadline to agree to investigate alleged massacres jointly.
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    "That would be a pity, for the simple reason that if a
resolution is voted for and doesn't take us into account,
implementing it will be difficult," Thambwe Mwamba said. "Do you
want experts to go into a foreign country without reporting to
the national authorities?
    "How will they get visas? How will they get access to the
countryside? The best way would be to go towards a solution that
is acceptable for everyone ... If you think you can do the
investigation without us, go ahead."
    He said it was baseless to suggest that Congo had not met a
June 8 deadline set by Zeid, since it had presented its roadmap
for investigating on May 24 in Kinshasa. Zeid has said the
government's response "falls short".
    Some legal proceedings had already begun, Thambwe Mwamba
said, including the trial of people suspected of killing U.N.
sanctions monitors Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalan, an American
and a Swede who disappeared in March and whose bodies were found
two weeks later in a shallow grave.
    About a dozen suspects were identified from a video of the
murders, and the four principal suspects have been arrested,
Thambwe Mwamba said. The others are still being sought.
    Last month a military prosecutor said two militia men had
been arrested, and denied that Congolese forces were involved.
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    "We have deployed the whole arsenal to establish
responsibility - who committed the act, who ordered it, are
there politicians at the provincial or national level who could
have played any sort of role?," Thambwe Mwamba said.
    The minister also said Congolese opposition leader Moise
Katumbi, who has been abroad since he was accused of plotting
against the state a year ago, was free to come back to Congo
whenever he wants, although he would have to face justice.
    Thambwe Mwamba added that Katumbi could be barred from
standing for election because Congo's constitution does not
permit dual nationalities.
    Thambwe Mwamba also commented on a lawsuit against him in
Belgium, which accuses him of involvement in the downing of an
airliner in 1998, with the loss of 40 lives. He said he was
unfazed by the lawsuit, and was very happy to respond to the
court through his lawyer, and would not invoke diplomatic
immunity.

 (Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Richard Balmforth)
 ((tom.miles@thomsonreuters.com; +41 58 306 2006; Reuters
Messaging: tom.miles.reuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: CONGO UN/



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