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Mandela murder plot gang sentenced

Twenty members of a white extremist group have been jailed from five to 35 years for treason and plotting to kill Nelson Mandela in the country's first post-apartheid treason trial.

Judge Eben Jordaan handed the sentences out in Pretoria to end the decade-long trial. Some sentences were suspended due to time already served.

The members of the Afrikaner extremist group Boeremag, or white farmer force, were found guilty last year of treason for a plot, in the late 1990s and early 2000, to overthrow the government. The African National Congress formed the country's government when Mr Mandela was elected to office in 1994 to bring an end to white minority rule.

Some were also convicted of culpable homicide and conspiring to murder for a thwarted plan to kill Mr Mandela. The group also claimed responsibility for a series of bombings that killed a woman and caused damage throughout the Johannesburg township of Soweto in 2002.

The leader of the group and four of its bomb squad were given some of the longest sentences. They planted a bomb on a road Mr Mandela was going to take for a visit to a school in Limpopo Province, but the plot was foiled when the anti-apartheid leader changed plans to take a helicopter to the school.

Having already served 10 years, those getting the heaviest sentences will serve 25 more.

Two of the accused died during trial and another was sentenced to 12 years in prison following a plea agreement.

Boeremag is an extreme group of Afrikaners, the white South Africans of Dutch, French and German descent who ruled the country under the racist apartheid regime that ended in 1994. The guilty include former engineers, medical doctors and military officers.

-AP

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