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Judge gives light sentence, Sithole will appeal

December 19, 1997

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) _ A former ally of President Robert Mugabe has been sentenced to two years in prison for treason after taking part in two failed assassination plots against Zimbabwe’s leader.

The Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole was sentenced for 1995 assassination attempts on Mugabe and also received a five-year suspended sentence for other crimes.

Judge Esmael Chatikobo immediately freed the 77-year-old opposition lawmaker on bail to appeal the conviction, calling the assassination plots a ``mind-boggling″ product of a senile mind.

``It was so amateur that one can’t but wonder that from the outset it was meant to fail,″ the judge said.

Sithole had faced a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Sithole claimed the charges against him were politically motivated.

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