American alleges torture in DRC coup trial

An American citizen, Taylor Christian Thomson (21), on trial for an alleged coup attempt in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), claims to have suffered torture during his arrest.

This allegation emerged on Tuesday at the military court in the capital, Kinshasa.

Thomson is one of three Americans among 51 defendants facing charges related to the May 19th incident.

Armed men, some reportedly brandishing the flag of the former Zaire, attacked the home of Economy Minister Vital Kamerhe and the nearby presidential palace.

The Congolese army later announced they had thwarted a coup attempt.

Defense lawyer Karl Kwatangholo alleges Thomson was mistreated by security forces during his arrest.

He claims his client was “badly molested” and that nude photos taken by soldiers were circulated on social media.

Kwatangholo, along with lawyers for the other defendants, is challenging the validity of evidence gathered during earlier hearings involving military intelligence.

They argue these sessions were conducted in French without interpreters, despite Thomson’s limited French and the presence of other defendants who speak English only.

Lawyers for the two other American defendants, Marcel Malanga (21) and Benjamin Reuben Zalman-Polun (36), echo these concerns. Additionally, the defense team is contesting the military court’s jurisdiction over the case, arguing that all defendants are civilians.

The alleged coup attempt was reportedly led by Christian Malanga, a naturalized American Congolese national killed by security forces. His son, Marcel Malanga, is among the accused.

The group of 51 defendants includes four women, a Canadian, a Briton, and a naturalized Congolese citizen from Belgium.

The charges against them are severe, encompassing “attack, terrorism, illegal possession of weapons, attempted assassination, criminal association, murder, and financing of terrorism.”

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