Angola coup trial opens with 35 accused

Luanda - An Angolan court was on Friday shown automatic weapons allegedly used in a coup attempt against long-ruling President Jose Eduardo dos Santos in January.

The 35 accused men, said to be former fighters from the Unita opposition group, appeared in court dressed in brown uniform on the first day of their trial in Luanda.

Two other men are still being sought by police.

An indictment read out by judge Joao Carlos Eduardo Agostinho said the men were arrested on January 30 and 31 close to the presidential palace and the public television and radio station.

It said they had eight guns, as well as knives and bayonets.

The men were accused of plotting "to take over (the television station) after capturing the head of state at the presidential palace," the indictment said.

The defendants, who deny all charges, are aged between 31 and 60.

Their lawyer said the weapons were taken from the house of one accused man and were intended for private security work.

Reports of the alleged coup only emerged in state media last week.

The National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), which was the main rebel group during a 27-year civil war and is now the main opposition party, has denied any links to the alleged coup.

Dos Santos, 74, has ruled Angola for 37 years.

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