In Zaire, thirteen soldiers and civilians convicted of plotting to overthrow President Mobutu Sese Seko have been executed.
GV INT Head of military members on trial Major Kalume Amba entering court with escort and sitting with accused
SV President of the court Admiral Lomponda accompanied by other officers, enters court to fanfare PAN TO accused officers and civilians
SV Admiral Lomponda and other military officials in seats
CU Kalume being sentenced to death with other accused looking on. Kalume is stripped of his rank (3 shots)
SV Admiral Lomponda reading the death sentence to second military officer as other accused look on. Officer stripped of his rank (3 shots)
CU Military officers seated alongside Admiral Lomponda during the sentencing of another member of the accused
SV President Mobutu speaking about executions in French
The Reuters news agency reported that President Mobutu said in a clear reference to human rights commitments by the United States and other Western countries, that the executions should not be used as a pretext to intensify human rights appeals intended to prevent Zaire from punishing criminals who showed no respect for the lives of others. President Mobutu said "I solemnly declare that from now in I will be without pity for all attempts of this kind. Whoever tries again to use the sword will perish by the sword".
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Background: In Zaire, thirteen soldiers and civilians convicted of plotting to overthrow President Mobutu Sese Seko have been executed. At a military court in the country's capital of Kinshasa the thirteen were sentenced to death on Thursday (16 March). The 13 were among 91 people accused of plotting to oust General Mobutu, who took power in 1965.
SYNOPSIS: The accused were led into the military court by an army officer, Major Kalume Amba, who was believed to have played a leading role in the affair. But the entrance of the Court's President, Admiral Lomponda, with other court officials was more spectacular.
The court was told the accused officers had acted in concert with a Brussels-based opposition group called Morc, to install its President, Numgoya Mbenge, in power. Leader of the accused Major Kalume Amba, stood silently as the death sentence was read and he was stripped of his rank. He and the other Zairian officers accused of involvement were largely Belgian-trained and came from southern and central Zaire according to diplomatic sources. President Mobutu is from the north of Zaire.
The court was also told the 13 accused were alleged to be ringleaders of an uprising in the Idiofa area, 400 kilometres east of Kinshasa, in January.
The court reprieved only one of the accused who was a woman Sergeant-Major. Otherwise appeals for clemency were rejected and court officials said that those who had been shown mercy in the past had been encouraged to pursue activities against the Zaire government. After the trial President Mobutu made a statement.
The President said the convicted rebels had plotted to kill his children in the hope of provoking his resignation. He claimed that after his wife died in a Swiss hospital last October the plotters had hoped the additional blow would both shake him and destroy international confidence in his regime. President Mobutu said the plotters also intended to blow up the Matadi-Kinshasa oil pipeline, the Inga hydro-electric dam across the Congo river, shops, cinemas, and the embassies of France and Morocco. According to him the accused plotters were supported by three foreign countries, of which one was African. Reports said he appeared to be referring to Angola, with which Zaire is on hostile terms, and its allies, the Soviet Union and Cuba.