Zambian authorities drop 'spying' charges against five Egyptians in seized plane incident

Ahram Online , Friday 1 Sep 2023

A Zambian court has freed all five Egyptians and a Zambian who were arrested onboard a private jet in Kenneth Kaunda Airport in Lusaka a fortnight ago - reportedly carrying cash, gold and several loaded pistols - as the prosecution said it is unwilling to pursue 'espionage' charges against them as previously announced.

kenneth kaunda international airport
kenneth kaunda international airport


“The DPP (the Director of Public Prosecutions) has entered a nolle prosequi in respect of the five Egyptians and one Zambian,” according to a statement by the country's Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) on Friday.

However, the DEC said two of the Egyptian defendants would be facing “lesser charges” in the incident but were granted bail, without elaborating.

The rest of the accused individuals who face espionage charges in the incident have been referred to the country's High Court for trial, added the DEC.

All four crew members of the plane have been released, according to the DEC.

Released Egyptian nationals appeared in footage aired by Zambian reports on Friday raising the V sign.

On Monday, the Egyptian state news agency MENA cited a well-informed source as saying that the Egyptian and Zambian authorities have been coordinating vis-a-vis the ongoing investigation.

Bizarre incident

Last week, Zambia’s DEC charged the 11 suspects, including a Zambian police officer, with espionage for entering a protected zone at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport.

The suspects entered the zone “for purposes that were prejudicial to the safety and interest of the Republic of Zambia,” according to the DEC charges.

The case of the seized plane, which reportedly carried around $5.7 million in cash, 602 gold bars weighing around 127 kilograms and weapons, has sparked worldwide speculations.

Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema had vowed to arrest and prosecute everyone involved.

Zambian authorities said that seized gold bars seized on the plane were actually fake gold, triggering speculations that a fraud operation was in play.

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