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S. Africa Postpones Trial of Afrikaner Extremists - 2003-05-19

In South Africa, the trial of 22 right-wing extremists accused of plotting to overthrow the government has been postponed for a week. Police took unprecedented security measures as the defendants appeared in court.

The trial in the packed Pretoria courtroom started several hours late, and it adjourned quickly. The judge granted a defense request for a one-week postponement to sort out legal aid issues for several defendants.

The 22 men are alleged members of the far right-wing group known as the Boeremag, which means Afrikaner Force.

They face charges including terrorism, sabotage, high treason, and murder in connection with a series of bomb blasts last year. They are accused of plotting to take over the government and establish an Afrikaner republic. Prosecutors also say they planned to incite a race war by assassinating former President Nelson Mandela.

This is the first major treason trial in South Africa since the end of the apartheid era. It is taking place under strict security, in the same courtroom that was used during the Rivonia trial of the 1960s, when Mr. Mandela and his co-defendants were sentenced to life in prison.