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South African Militants Sentenced in Mandela Plot

Some of the right-wing extremists convicted of high treason for a plot to kill former South African president Nelson Mandela and drive blacks out of the country attend their trial at Pretoria High Court on Oct. 29, 2013.
After a 10-year trial, a South African court has sentenced members of a right-wing militant group to up to 35 years in prison for plots to destabilize the government.

The Pretoria court handed down the sentences Tuesday to 18 members of the Boeremag militia group who had been charged with treason. Two other convicted group members died before the end of the trial.

Some members of the group were linked to a plot to assassinate Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president.

Boeremag backed apartheid, the now-defunct South African system of white minority rule and discrimination against blacks.

The group claimed responsibility for a spate of bombings in 2002 that left one person dead in Soweto. Boeremag members convicted of the bombings received the stiffest sentences.

During the trial, witnesses testified that some Boeremag members plotted to chase blacks and other people of color out of the country.

They also said some Boeremag members discussed plots to violently overthrow the post-apartheid government and to assassinate Mandela.

According to the SAPA news agency, Judge Eben Jordaan said the group planted a landmine that could have killed Mandela as he made an appearance at a school in the northeastern province of Limpopo.

The Boeremag trial lasted 10 years and is considered the most expensive in the country's history, costing taxpayers about $3.5 million.

Most of the defendants have spent 10 years in prison awaiting the outcome and will receive credit for time served.