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Montenegro Coup Plot Trial Adjourned Until September

Montenegrin oppositionists Andrija Mandic (right) and Milan Knezevic meet with supporters as they arrive for a court hearing in Podgorica on July 20.

The trial of 14 suspects charged with plotting to overthrow Montenegro's government and keep the Balkan country out of NATO has been adjourned until September.

Judge Suzana Mugosa announced the decision on July 20, after defense lawyers filed several motions and sought more time to prepare.

Mugosa said the trial would be adjourned until September 6 "in order not to violate the right of the defense.”

It began on July 19, but was quickly put on hold over a defense motion to replace the prosecutor.

State authorities say Serbian and Russian nationalists plotted to occupy parliament during October 2016 parliamentary elections, assassinate then-Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, and install a pro-Russia leadership to halt Montenegro's bid to join NATO.

The defendants include lawmakers Andrija Mandic and Milan Knezevic of the opposition Democratic Front, nine Serbian citizens, one other Montenegrin, and two Russians who are being tried in absentia.

Montenegro says that “Russian state bodies” were involved in the alleged plot, but Russia denies the claim.

Montenegro became NATO's 29th member on June 5, marking a historic turn toward the transatlantic alliance amid protests from traditional partner Russia and members of the opposition.

Russia has long opposed any further NATO enlargelnent and has bitterly criicized the Adriatic coastal country's accession to the transatlantic military alliance.

With reporting by AP and AFP
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