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Alleged DRC coup plotters claim they were coerced

TWO U.S. citizens on trial in the Democratic Republic of Congo for their alleged involvement in a May coup attempt have claimed they were forced to participate under threat of death. 

According to Reuters, Marcel Malanga, 22, and Benjamin Zalman-Polun made these statements during their first court appearance since the trial began.

The coup attempt briefly saw armed men occupy a presidential office in Kinshasa on May 19 before security forces killed the coup leader, U.S.-based Congolese politician Christian Malanga.

Marcel Malanga, who is Christian Malanga’s son, told the military court: “Dad had threatened to kill us if we did not follow his orders.” He denied any involvement in planning the coup attempt, stating he had come to Congo at his father’s invitation and had never visited the country before.

Reuters reports that Zalman-Polun described himself as a long-time business associate of Christian Malanga but claimed no involvement in planning the coup attempt. He told the court: “I met Malanga in 2013, we always had relationships based on mining activities in Swaziland and Mozambique, he had never been so violent.”

According to Reuters, Malanga and Zalman-Polun are among over 50 people, including U.S., British, Canadian, Belgian, and Congolese citizens, standing trial following the failed coup. They face various charges including illegal arms possession, criminal conspiracy, and terrorism, with some charges risking the death penalty or lengthy prison sentences.

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The trial has been adjourned until July 8.

By The African Mirror