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American Tiktoker arrested during DRC failed coup to face court martial

By Reuters June 10th, 2024 2 min read

Three U.S. citizens are among 53 defendants facing a possible death sentence for their alleged

involvement in a foiled coup attempt in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to charges read on theĀ first day of their military trial on Friday, June 7.

Congolese security forces foiled the attempted takeover on May 19 which saw armed men briefly occupy an office of the presidency in the capital Kinshasa, before their leader, U.S.-based Congolese politician Christian Malanga, was killed.

The defendants include Malanga’s 21-year-old son Marcel Malanga, two other U.S. citizens, and citizens of Britain, Canada, and Belgium, all three of whom have Congolese roots.

They face various charges including illegal arms possession, criminal conspiracy, and terrorism, some of which risk the death penalty or lengthy prison sentences.

The defendants were identified in court, and charges read, but they were not asked to plead. Congo lifted a moratorium on the death penalty in March, citing treachery and espionage in recurring armed conflicts as the reason.

When asked to comment on the case, a lawyer for one of the U.S. detainees, Benjamin Zalman-Polun, said the presumption of innocence applied and it was too soon to talk of possible extradition. It was not possible to reach other lawyers for comment.

The trial was held under a tent in the yard of Ndolo military prison on the outskirts of Kinshasa.

Marcel Malanga
Marcel Malanga with his late father, Christian Malanga, during the failed coup of May 19. PHOTO | POOL

In a previous OSINT story, Nairobi News did a deepdive on who Marcel Maranga is. He was arrested after the May 19 failed coup that saw his father, Christian Malanga shot dead.

In a heartfelt post dated June 19, 2023, Marcel, 21, shared a photo of his father with the caption, “Honoured to have you as my earthly father. Can’t wait to change the world with you”.

Marcel, who often referred to himself as ‘Warcel’, shared a video of himself and his dad at a shooting range and captioned it: “Check Out My Father and I Shooting”.

Another tweet from June 2022 shared his political plans as he campaigned: ‘We need to get this man in office, he’s trying to stop all the terrible tragedies in the DRC,’ referring to his father.

Despite these noble aspirations, Marcel’s social media also showed a more controversial side. He flaunted his wealth, posting videos with wads of cash and firearms.

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