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Trial of Congolese ‘plotters’ opens in S. Africa

Twenty Congolese nationals go on trial Monday in a South African court accused of seeking to assassinate their country’s president, Joseph Kabila.

Besides Kabila, the prosecution claims the group had a hit list including other senior Democratic Republic of Congo figures including the head of the military, interior minister and the central bank governor.

Most of the defendants, aged 25 to 49, were longtime residents in South Africa, one of their lawyers, Thesigan Pillay, told AFP.

The group was arrested in South Africa 17 months ago, and the alleged hit list was discovered on one of the suspect’s computers.

Rights activities have warned of possible bias in their upcoming trial in Pretoria, which is expected to last six weeks.

The DRC, a country nearly the size of western Europe abundant in natural resources, has been shattered by decades of strife and human rights abuses, particularly in its mineral-rich east.

Kabila took office in 2001 at the height of a devastating conflict that became known as “Africa’s Great War”. International envoys have expressed concern he could run for a third term in office, flouting constitutional limits.