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Congo blast suspects held 'illegally'

08 May 2013, 13:43

Brazzaville - A lawyer representing 26 suspects held over last year's deadly blasts at a Congo munitions dump has accused authorities of keeping his clients in illegal detention by delaying their trial.

The powerful March explosions in Brazzaville, initially blamed on a short-circuit and fire, killed at least 282 people, injured about 2 300 others and left around 17 000 people homeless. Twenty-three of the suspects in the case are soldiers.

"A year later, the defendants have not been tried within the legal timeframe. Today, they are in illegal and arbitrary detention," defence lawyer Amedee Nganga told reporters at a press conference late Tuesday, noting authorities had initially planned a court process for January, but then pushed it back to April.

"The trial against the defendants seems to be difficult" because of procedural irregularities, he said.

Nganga said the bulk of the charges brought against them, including crimes against state security, "have nothing to do with the explosions".



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