DR Congo ‘coup’ suspect says forced into it by fatherFri, 05 Jul 2024 18:29:41 GMT

An American on trial over an alleged coup bid in DR Congo told a court on Friday that he had been forced into participating by his father who led the plot and was later killed. The alleged coup bid struck on May 19 when armed men attacked the home of Economy Minister Vital Kamerhe before raiding the building housing the offices of President Felix Tshisekedi.It was led by Christian Malanga, a Congolese man who was a “naturalised American” and who was killed by security forces, army spokesman General Sylvain Ekenge has said.His son Marcel Malanga, one of three Americans on trial in a military court in DR Congo capital Kinshasa, said his father had woken him up late on the night of May 18, ordering him to take a weapon.”He was wearing a military uniform and had a gun around his arm,” Malanga said.”He told us he would kill us if we didn’t listen,” he added.- ‘I was kidnapped’ -Those engaged in the coup plot on May 19 were seemingly filmed brandishing the flag of Zaire — the name of the Central African country during the rule of late dictator Mobutu Sese Seko — and chanting that Tshisekedi’s government was over.But Malanga said he knew nothing about his father’s plans before coming to DR Congo, insisting he had come to the country to visit him.”I had not seen him since 2021, it’s been a long time and I wanted to see him,” he said. Benjamin Reuben Zalman-Polun, another American also being tried, told the court of Friday that his presence during the alleged coup bid was also under duress.”I was kidnapped, I was forced,” he said. During Friday’s session Malanga dismissed evidence that had been taken before the trial had begun when he had first been questioned.”Anything said at the judicial court you can take with a pinch of salt because there was no translator,” he said.”I was being tortured,” he added.Lawyers for the 51 defendants currently being tried had said in June that suspects in the case had been mistreated in detention. The lawyers for the Americans have called for evidence from earlier hearings involving their clients to be annulled. They argued that their clients were interrogated in French, without an interpreter, despite being English speakers. The charges in the case include “attack, terrorism, illegal possession of weapons and munitions of war, attempted assassination, criminal association, murder (and) financing of terrorism”, according to a court document.Taylor Christian Thomson is the third American being tried, as well as a Belgian, Brit and Canadian who are all naturalised Congolese.