Villagers in Democratic Republic of Congo discovered the remains of two U.N. investigators and their Congolese interpreter who went missing this month in an area engulfed in a violent uprising, a government spokesman said on Tuesday.
Michael Sharp, a U.S. citizen, and Zaida Catalan, a Swedish national, had been in a group of experts monitoring a sanctions regime imposed on Congo by the U.N. Security Council when they disappeared in Kasai Central province.
In a statement issued in New York, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres confirmed that the remains of the two investigators missing since March 12 had been found in Congo and said the world body would conduct an inquiry.
Villagers found the bodies of two Caucasians and one Congolese not far from where the experts group vanished, according to the government.
Police informed the authorities in the capital Kinshasa on Monday and a team including the provincial police commissioner was sent to the scene to identify the bodies.
“It’s now a certainty. It is the two investigators. We identified the third body in the grave with them as their Congolese interpreter,” Communications Minister Lambert Mende told Reuters.
John Sharp, the father of Michael, posted on his Facebook page that the bodies of two Caucasians had been found in a shallow grave, saying that there was a “high probability” that it was the U.N. officials.
“This is a message I hoped never to write,” he wrote, adding that DNA tests and dental records would be used to confirm the identities of the bodies.
Guterres said the United Nations would cooperate with Congolese authorities in searching for the four Congolese nationals who accompanied the U.N. officials.
“In case of criminal acts, the United Nations will do everything possible to ensure that justice is done,” the U.N. chief said.