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Detained men’s lawyers want case dismissed

LAWYERS for 70 suspected mercenaries charged in Zimbabwe with plotting to topple the government of Equatorial Guinea yesterday said they would ask a court to dismiss the case next week.

Helvetica, sans-serif”>The suspects – mainly South Africans, Angolans and Namibians – made their third routine court appearance yesterday at the high security Chikurubi Maximum prison where Zimbabwe authorities have detained them since their arrest on March 7.

Their Zimbabwean lawyer Jonathan Samkange said the defence would ask the court on April 23 to set them free.

“We want to make an application…for this court to refuse to place them on further remand on the grounds that there is no reasonable suspicion,” Samkange said.

Zimbabwe has held the 70 since impounding their plane in Harare during what President Robert Mugabe’s government says was a mission to depose Equatorial Guinea leader Teodore Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.

The men have been charged under public order and security laws as well as with immigration, firearms, and aviation offences.

Friends and relatives of the men waved and blew kisses as the prisoners were herded into the makeshift prison courtroom on Thursday in handcuffs and leg irons.

State lawyers have said they face life imprisonment if found guilty of the initial charge, but the defence says they each face maximum fines of $200 000 (US$4 420) per charge.

The men say they were on a mission to provide legitimate mine security in the Democratic Republic of Congo. —  Reuter.

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