- The South African government will send a delegation to Equatorial Guinea to ensure that the trial of eight South Africans arrested in that country for allegedly plotting to overthrow President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, will be conducted in a fair manner.
South Africa's Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma announced this in Pretoria yesterday following a meeting between herself, South African President Thabo Mbeki, Equatoguinean President Obiang and the country's Foreign Minister, Pastor Micha Ondo Bile.
- We will be sending a delegation to Malabo to help the Equatorial Guinea government ensure that the trial is fair and that all the requirements are met, she said, noting that these included proper conditions of detention. Equatoguinean prisons are famous for their low standards and common use of torture.
Ms Dlamini-Zuma explained that the South African delegation would possible comprise members from the Justice, Foreign Affairs, Safety and Security and Correctional Services departments. She made no reference to standards in Equatoguinean detention centres.
Questioned on whether the issue of the death penalty had been raised, Minister Dlamini-Zuma said the South African government would let the trial run its course and would intervene only if it was necessary and if the alleged mercenaries were convicted and sentenced to death. Death penalty is widely used in Equatoguinean courts.
The eight men are part of a group of 15 held in Equatorial Guinea and 70 being detained in Zimbabwe, who are being accused of conspiring to overthrow the Equatorial Guinea government in a coup d'état, earlier this year. Zimbabwean authorities plan to extradite the alleged mercenaries to Equatorial Guinea.
This possible extradition to Equatorial Guinea is however contested and controversial, due to legal standards in the country. The Constitutional Court in South Africa will on Monday hear an appeal from the families of the men in Zimbabwe who are asking that the South African government be ordered to seek their extradition to South Africa.
Judge President Bernard Ngoepe of the South African province Transvaal turned down an application last month for an order compelling the South African government to seek the men's extradition.
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