Jailed British mercenary Simon Mann ‘pardoned’

Author: By Liam Creedon, Press Association

Mann was sentenced to a 34-year jail term after admitting conspiring to oust
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, leader of the tiny West African
country.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We are aware of reports about the proposed
release of Simon Mann.

“We are seeking to clarify this but it is an issue for the Equatorial Guinea
authorities at this stage.”

Mann was sentenced in July last year following a high-profile trial.

The former SAS officer was accused of masterminding an operation to oust
President Obiang.

The old Etonian was originally arrested with around 70 other people, mostly
former soldiers, when their aircraft arrived at an airport in the Zimbabwean
capital, Harare, in March 2004.

At first he denied that the group had come to collect weapons for a coup.

His lawyers claimed they were on their way to the Democratic Republic of Congo
to help secure diamond mines.

He was jailed for seven years in Zimbabwe for conspiring to buy weapons of war.

Mann said he suffered a violent abduction in February from Chikrubi prison in
Zimbabwe to Equatorial Guinea.

He has always insisted that he was not the main man behind the plot.

Equatorial Guinea held its first trial into the alleged plot in August 2004.

South African arms dealer Nick Du Toit was sentenced to 34 years in prison as
a result of the case.

Sir Mark Thatcher, the son of former prime minister Baroness Thatcher, was
given a suspended sentence in South Africa in relation to the funding of
Mann’s operation, though he has always denied any knowledge that a coup was
being plotted.

During his trial Mann told the court the ex-prime minister’s son was “part of
the management team” behind the failed plot and “not just an investor”.

A statement on the website of Equatorial Guinea’s Information Ministry said
Mann was granted a full pardon on humanitarian grounds.

The country is Africa’s third biggest oil producer but many of its people
remain poor.

It is also considered to be among the continent’s worst violators of human
rights.

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