ACCUSED GOES AWOL

ONE of the four men arrested for the attempted murder of a former Rwandan general last month did not go to prison after his previous court appearance, the Johannesburg magistrate's court heard yesterday.

ONE of the four men arrested for the attempted murder of a former Rwandan general last month did not go to prison after his previous court appearance, the Johannesburg magistrate's court heard yesterday.

The state told the court that George Francis was not taken back to prison after he appeared alongside co-accused Shafiri Bakari, Juma Huseni and Ahmed Ali on June 29.

When an investigating officer went looking for Francis to collect documents to verify his status in South Africa, he did not respond when his name was called and he could not be found.

When questioned about his whereabouts by the magistrate, Francis, who was in court yesterday, claimed he was in prison, but that his documents were taken to Johannesburg Central Police Station.

It was not immediately clear if the state will further investigate Francis's claims.

The men appeared briefly on June 29 and had their case postponed after it was established they had previous convictions for possession of stolen goods. It was also not clear if they were in the country legally. Their case was then postponed to verify this.

It was postponed again yesterday to July 29 to determine their status, after they failed to produce all the documents needed to do so on time.

They were told they would be considered to be in the country illegally until then.

The four are accused of having shot and wounded Lieutenant-General Faustin Nyamwasa outside his home in Melrose Arch on June 19.

Nyamwasa had been exiled in South Africa since February. He was accused in his home country of trying to destabilise Rwanda and was also allegedly linked to three grenade attacks in that country's capital.

The Department of Justice was still deciding whether South Africa should consider a Rwandan extradition request for Nyamwasa. - Sapa

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