Spread the love

Faith Nyasuguta

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), more than 50 individuals, including three U.S. citizens and a Belgian, have gone on trial over what the army has labeled an attempted coup. 

The military court in Kinshasa, the DRC’s capital, commenced proceedings with severe accusations. Judge Freddy Ehume emphasized that the actions of the three Americans are “punishable by death.”

The Americans ” Marcel Malanga, Taylor Christian Thomson, both 21, and 36-year-old Benjamin Reuben Zalman-Polunè ” were the first to face the judge. Judge Ehume reiterated that their alleged acts are “punishable by death.” 

Following them, around 50 other defendants, one by one, stood under a large tent in the Ndolo military prison grounds to hear their charges. Dressed in blue-and-yellow prison uniforms, the defendants’ trial began around 11:40 am local time, closely observed by western diplomats, journalists, and lawyers.

US national Taylor Thomson (2nd L) sits among others accused of a failed coup attempt at the Ndolo Prison in Kinshasa on June 7, 2024 /AFP/

The alleged coup attempt took place on May 19, when armed men attacked the residence of the economy minister, Vital Kamerhe, before targeting the nearby Palais de la Nation, the office of President Felix Tshisekedi. The attackers were reportedly filmed brandishing the flag of Zaire”the DRC’s name during Mobutu Sese Seko’s dictatorship”and chanting that Tshisekedi’s government was over.

Following the events, the army announced on national television that security forces had thwarted “an attempted coup dètat.” The alleged plot was reportedly orchestrated by Christian Malanga, a Congolese man who had become a naturalized American citizen and was killed by security forces during the incident, according to army spokesperson Gen Sylvain Ekenge. Malanga’s son, one of the three Americans on trial, is among the accused.

Gen Ekenge stated that approximately 40 of the assailants, of various nationalities, had been arrested, and another four, including Christian Malanga, had been killed. The government condemned the incident as an attempt to destabilize the country’s institutions, though the motive behind the alleged coup remains unclear.

Among the accused are four women and at least one Belgian national, Jean-Jacques Wondo. Wondo, a military expert of Congolese origin, was arrested on May 21, two days after the alleged coup. 

He is accused of being an accomplice to Christian Malanga by providing transport for the purported plotters. Wondo’s lawyer, Masingo Shela, stated that Wondo denied the charges and would defend himself.

A court document lists a total of 53 defendants, including Christian Malanga, despite his death. The charges encompass a range of serious offenses, including “attack, terrorism, illegal possession of weapons and munitions of war, attempted assassination, criminal association, murder, and financing of terrorism.”

DR Congo army says it stopped attempted coup /Courtesy/

The trial is a significant moment in the DRC, drawing considerable international attention as the country seeks to address the implications of the alleged coup attempt and uphold its legal processes.


About Author

Faith Nyasuguta

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *