SAfrica prosecutor: Congo rebels wanted coup, war
However, Kazongo in court politely and calmly denied the allegations, saying he only arrived in South Africa four days earlier.
‘‘I entered legally into South Africa and I'm allowed to stay in South Africa for another three months, but now I don’t want to,’’ he told Magistrate Maryke de la Rey at one point.
U.S. Embassy spokesman Jack Hillmeyer later said that consular officials had confirmed Kazongo’s identity and his U.S. citizenship.
‘‘South African authorities got in touch with our consular officers, who have visited him. We have been in touch with him and communicated with his family and provided consular services,’’ Hillmeyer told the AP.
Kazongo’s wife Jeannine, reached by the AP in Delaware, confirmed her husband had been arrested, but declined to comment further.
Some of the other arrested men knew only French and Swahili. Several told de la Rey that they had been denied access to lawyers and their family and had been beaten by police. Nearly all requested to see a doctor for medical treatment.
The men face charges of violating South Africa’s Foreign Military Assistance Act, which bars people from plotting coups or mercenary activities in foreign nations. De la Rey ordered the men held until a bail hearing Feb. 14, where prosecutors could present more evidence. That could include the surveillance video, photographs and audio that Abrahams said police captured at every meeting with the accused rebels.
The men, who have yet to hire lawyers, did not enter pleas at Thursday’s hearing.
The arrest of the alleged coup plotters represents the latest example of South Africa finding itself caught in the middle of international intrigue. In January, a South African judge found Nigerian Henry Okah, an alleged gunrunner and leader of a militant group in Nigeria,, guilty of plotting a dual car bombing in his country that killed at least 12 people and wounded dozens more on Oct. 1, 2010.
Associated Press writers Michelle Faul in Johannesburg and Saleh Mwanamilongo in Kinshasa, Congo, contributed to this report.
Jon Gambrell can be reached at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.