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US, Canadian, British, and Belgian Citizens Among Suspects on Trial Over Thwarted Congo Coup

Congolese authorities charged over 50 defendants, including six with US, British, Canadian, and Belgian citizenship, to court on Friday for participating in the May 19 failed coup attempt. The defendants were allegedly part of a group of armed men, led by US-based Congolese politician Christian Malanga, who briefly occupied a presidency office in Kinshasa during the attempt. While Malanga was killed in the ensuing confrontation with security forces, his son, Marcel Malanga, two other US citizens, and three others with Canadian, British, and Belgian citizenships all face charges of illegal arms possession, criminal conspiracy, and terrorism, among others. All of them have Congolese roots and, if found guilty, face lengthy prison sentences or death. The defendants were charged during their court appearance but were not allowed to enter pleas. Richard Bondo, a lawyer for one US detainee, revealed they are presumed innocent and that it was too soon to discuss extradition.