Alleged coup plotters in South Sudan flown to Kenya 'for their own safety'

A spokesman for South Sudan's president says seven of the 11 leaders accused of plotting a failed military coup in December have been flown to Kenya where they will still be held in custody.

Ateny Wek Ateny said Wednesday that the detainees "will be behind bars" in Kenya but offered no more details. The commander of rebel forces, former Deputy President Riek Machar, has repeatedly demanded the prisoners be freed.

Justice Minister Paulino Wanawilla Unago said the detainees will be in Kenya for the duration of the investigation "for their own safety" but will return to face trial.

Kenya is a member of a regional bloc mediating the conflict that has forced 700,000 people from their homes since mid-December.

The warring factions signed a cease-fire deal last week.