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Two Utah friends Face Death Penalty in Congo After Failed Coup Attempt

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Ayize claire

Jun 15, 2024

 Three Americans accused of being involved in last month's coup attempt in Congo appeared in a military court in the country's capital

Marcel Malanga appeared in court in Prison Suits DRC

Two residents of West Jordan, Utah, Marcel Malanga and Tyler Thompson, are facing the death penalty in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after being involved in an attempted coup. Their connection began five years ago at Copper Hills High School. Malanga, the US-born son of Congolese warlord Christian Malanga, persuaded Thompson to join him in what was portrayed as a benign trip to Africa.


Christian Malanga, a former DRC army captain, led a failed coup in Kinshasa in May with a small group of paramilitaries. The raid resulted in his death and the arrest of over 50 people, including Marcel, Thompson, and another American, Benjamin Reuben Zalman-Polun. The three appeared in a military court, facing charges punishable by death.


The incident has shocked West Jordan residents, where the two young men were well-known. Marcel's mother, Brittney Sawyer, maintains her son was unaware of his father's plans and was unintentionally involved. Friends and family of Thompson are similarly stunned, believing he was on a holiday trip.


Reports indicate Marcel had offered friends up to $100,000 to join him in Africa under false pretenses. Some friends refused, but Thompson accepted the invitation. The families are now relying on the US government for assistance, with embassy officials providing consular support and monitoring the situation closely.


This incident underscores the complex and dangerous political climate in the DRC, with many questions still unanswered about the extent of Christian Malanga's network and the involvement of other actors. For now, the focus remains on the wellbeing of Marcel Malanga and Tyler Thompson as their fate hangs in the balance.

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