June 24, 2024
US, British Citizens Court Martialed In DRC On Failed Coup Suspicion

US, British Citizens Court Martialed In DRC On Failed Coup Suspicion

More than 50 defendants, including six with US, British, Canadian, or Belgian citizenship, appeared in court in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday, charged with involvement in a failed coup.

On May 19, armed men briefly occupied the presidential office in Kinshasa before their leader, Congolese politician Christian Malanga, was killed by security forces.

The defendants include Malanga’s 22-year-old son, Marcel Malanga, two other US citizens, and three foreign passport holders. All have Congolese roots.

The first day of the military trial was held under a tent in the yard of the Ndolo military prison on the outskirts of Kinshasa.

The defendants filed in wearing blue and yellow prison-issued tops and lined up in front of the judge.

All 53 are charged with illegal arms possession, criminal conspiracy, terrorism, and attempts to destabilize state institutions and undermine state integrity, some of which carry the death penalty or lengthy prison sentences.

The defendants were identified in court and charged, but they were not asked to enter a plea.

Congo lifted its death penalty moratorium in March, citing treachery and espionage in ongoing armed conflicts as the reason.

Richard Bondo, a lawyer for one of the US detainees, Benjamin Zalman-Polun, told Reuters that it was too early to discuss possible extradition and that the presumption of innocence applied.

The other defendants and their lawyers could not be reached for comment.

US, British Citizens Court Martialed In DRC On Failed Coup Suspicion

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