Egyptians, Zambians in court over gold on mystery plane

Egyptians, Zambians in court over gold on mystery plane

Five Egyptians and six Zambians appeared in court Monday after a mystery plane landed in Lusaka with 130 kilos of "suspected" gold, nearly six million dollars and weapons on board.

Gold bars

Drug and law enforcement authorities said 11 suspects, including a senior Zambian police officer, had been arrested and charged with "espionage", in the capital.

The suspects arrived at a magistrate's court late Monday afternoon, an AFP correspondent reported.

Authorities in the southern African country seized 127 kilos (280 pounds) of "suspected gold", a handful of firearms, 126 rounds of ammunition and almost $5.7 million when the plane landed in Lusaka two weeks ago.

The Drug Enforcement Commission said the chartered aircraft was transporting "dangerous goods".

Court papers seen by AFP list a former Egyptian military person and businessman as well as a Zambian police officer among the suspects.

The story, much of which remains unclear, has continued making waves in Egypt.

An independent Egyptian journalist who was arrested in  Cairo following reports accusing officials of involvement in smuggling cash, weapons and gold, was later released.

However, Egyptian state media had claimed the aircraft in question was privately owned and that it had only transited through Cairo.

The suspects could face up to 30 years in jail under Zambian law.

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