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"Captain Solo", Zambia's 1997 coup plotter released from jail, forgiven by former president

posted 4 Jan 2011, 09:58 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 4 Jan 2011, 10:04 ]
LUSAKA , ZAMBIA (JANUARY 4, 2011) REUTERS - 
Zambia's 1997 coup leader Captain Steven Lungu, has apologized to former president Frederick Chiluba for his attempt to overthrow him from power.

Captain Lungu, also known as Captain Solo, has been released from prison on parole because of his poor health.

Lungu, met Chiluba on Tuesday (January 04) at his home in Lusaka, and apologised to Chiluba for attempting to overthrow his government.

He asked Chiluba, who left office in 2002 and Zambians to forgive him for his actions.

Lungu says he regrets having masterminded the thwarted 1997 coup plot that lasted for almost three hours when he went to take over the nations radio studios to announce the coup.

He described himself as a lost and disgruntled child and he was sorry for what he did. Captain Lungu who regularly quoted various scriptures from the bible pleaded with the former president to forgive him. Lungu also asked Chiluba to talk to Zambia's president Rupiah Banda to consider reinstating some of the soldiers who were part of the attempted coup who are still physically fit.

"It is my request that those, especially the recruits who have got still time to serve in the army they can be restored as they still have got the energy. Maybe those who have finished their sentences they can be discharged honourably and let everything be borne by me sir," Lungu said.

In response, Chiluba said Captain Solo should regard himself a winner because he had come to know God.

"I forgive you from the very bottom of my heart," said Chiluba.

Lungu, late Captain Jack Chiti and 52 other senior Army officers attempted to overthrow Chiluba's government on October 28, 1997 for alleged corruption practices.

But the attempt failed and the soldiers were charged with treason. They were subsequently convicted in September 1999 and sentenced to hang.

However, late president Levy Mwanawasa commuted Captain Lungus's sentence to 20 years while the other officers who were coerced by their superiors were handed 10 year sentences.

Of the 54 people convicted, four died in custody and Zambia's Supreme Court acquitted 10 others.

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