Expatica news

Seven years for Guinea coup plotter

10 September 2004

HARARE – The British leader of a group of 67 alleged mercenaries accused of plotting a coup in Equatorial Guinea was sentenced to seven years in jail Friday.

Former SAS officer Simon Mann has been convicted in Zimbabwe of illegally trying to buy weapons, the BBC reports.

The men were arrested in March when their private plane landed at Harare Airport. They denied plotting a coup.

The other passengers got 12 months in jail for breaking immigration laws while the two pilots got 16 months.

The men said the weapons were to be used to provide security for a diamond mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Severo Moto, the Equatorial Guinea opposition leader exiled to Spain, has denied allegations he was preparing to return if the coup plot was successful.

Mann, 51, was convicted two weeks ago on the weapons charge. The other men were acquitted of links to the suspected coup plot.

The sentences handed down on Friday were much stiffer than the men would have expected.

Their relatives broke down in tears as the ruling was read out.

Magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe delivered the sentences in a makeshift court inside Chikurubi maximum security prison near Harare, where the men have been detained since their arrest.

Mann has led a colourful life. Educated at an elite British private school, Eton, he was a successful soldier before he drifted into the murky world of private security in Africa.

He is a good friend and Cape Town neighbour of Sir Mark Thatcher, son of former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Sir Mark has been arrested in South Africa accused of helping to fund the alleged coup. He denies any involvement.

Moto, the self-styled “president” of the Equatorial Guinea government in exile, said from his adopted home in Madrid he had no connections with the plotters.

[Copyright Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news