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Last Updated: Monday, 23 June, 2003, 16:27 GMT 17:27 UK
S African whites face treason trial
Frederick Johannes Naude, one of the accused, arrives at court
The first treason trial in South Africa since apartheid ended has got under way, with a group of alleged white supremacists accused of trying to overthrow the government.

A total of 22 men thought to belong to the underground racist group "Boeremag" are accused of attacks against government targets.

The prosecution argues the men's aim was to kill off the country's majority black population or drive them from South Africa.

They are accused of the murder of Claudia Mokone who was killed in one a bomb blast in the black township of Soweto.

And prosecutors say they also conspired to kill Nelson Mandela by blowing up a car transporting the former president to a public event.

The group faces 42 charges, including high treason, murder, attempted murder, terrorism and the illegal possession of weapons.

Six of the men have entered not guilty pleas, two are to plead at a later date while another man refused to enter a plea.

But 13 of the men have decided to challenge the court's jurisdiction.

They say the national constitution is invalid because white voters were not consulted before its approval.

Their defence lawyer, Paul Kruger, claims the country's first all-race elections in 1994 were "irregular".

He said he would call South Africa's last white president, FW de Klerk, to testify if necessary.

The lead prosecutor, Paul Fick, rejected the defence as "illogical."

"If this court doesn't have jurisdiction, they might as well say that about all the courts," he said.




SEE ALSO:
SA police seek 'extremists'
12 Mar 03  |  Africa



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