Spying charges against five Egyptians and one Zambian arrested after a mystery plane landed in Lusaka with cash, fake gold and weapons on board have been dropped. They had faced up to 30 years in jail if convicted.
However, two of the Egyptians are being rearrested on lesser charges and will be granted bail, Zambia’s Drug Enforcement Commission said in a statement.
Five other Zambians who were also detained at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport just over two weeks ago were not released – and will be tried by the High Court for espionage, it said.
The authorities said about $5.7m (£4.5m) in cash, several pistols, 126 rounds of ammunition and what looked like 127kg (280lb) of gold bars were found on the private jet. It turned out the bars were a mixture of gold, copper, nickel, tin and zinc.
“This is not a time to mention anything. We knew from day one that we are clean,” one of the freed Egyptians told reporters outside court before they boarded a bus.
State prosecutors gave no reason for their decision to drop the charges. They entered a “nolle prosequi” – a decision to no longer prosecute the case, but which gives them the option to do so if more evidence becomes available.