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5 Egyptians in court after plane found with $6m, weapons in Zambia

August 29, 2023 at 10:03 am

A view of The Judiciary of Zambia [wikipedia]

Five Egyptians and six Zambians appeared before a court in Zambia yesterday in relation to a plane which landed in Lusaka earlier this month loaded with 130 kilogrammes of “suspicious” gold, about $6 million and weapons.

Drug control and law enforcement agencies said 11 suspects, including a senior Zambian police officer, were arrested in the capital and charged with “espionage”. The suspects appeared in court yesterday afternoon, according to an AFP correspondent.

A Zambian journalist published scenes of the five Egyptian defendants entering the court, most had their heads covered with hoods and wore black sunglasses.

The Zambian authorities initially announced the arrest of six Egyptians. Five were named while the identity of the sixth remains unknown.

Authorities in the country seized 127 kilogrammes of “suspicious gold”, a number of firearms, 126 rounds of ammunition, and about $5.7 million when the plane landed in Lusaka two weeks ago.

The Drug Enforcement Commission announced that the chartered plane was carrying “dangerous goods”.

Judge Davies Chali Mumba said those arrested were accused of acts that harm the safety and interest of the Republic of Zambia.

They were then placed in pre-trial detention.

READ: Captured Egypt plane raises doubts officials are smuggling funds

Court documents seen by AFP indicate that the suspects include a former Egyptian military official and a businessman, in addition to a Zambian police officer.

Egypt arrested an independent journalist after he published information accusing officials of involvement in the smuggling of money, weapons and gold, but he was later released.

Egyptian official media claimed the plane was privately owned and had only transited through Cairo.

The suspects face up to 30 years in prison under Zambian law.