Simon Mann Pardoned

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  1. Simon Mann pardoned over role in Equatorial Guinea coup plot

    • Simon Mann had served one year of 34-year sentence

    Simon Mann during his trial for a failed coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea. Photograph: Rebecca Blackwell/AP

    "The British mercenary Simon Mann, who was sentenced to 34 years in prison in Equatorial Guinea last year for plotting to overthrow the oil-rich country's government, has been granted a presidential pardon.

    Equatorial Guinea's information ministry said tonight that Teodoro Obiang, the president, had already signed the waiver, which was "a complete pardon on humanitarian grounds".

    Mann, an Eton-educated former SAS officer, was arrested in Harare, Zimbabwe, in 2004 with dozens of mercenaries when their private plane landed. He spent three years in prison in Zimbabwe and was then extradited to Equatorial Guinea.

    During his trial, the court in Equatorial Guinea heard that Mark Thatcher, the son of the former British prime minister, was a member of the group. Mann acknowledged knowingly taking part in the attempt to topple Equatorial Guinea's government, but his lawyer argued he was a secondary player. He has been held at the notorious Black Beach prison in Malabo, the capital.

    Mann was also ordered to pay a fine and compensation of about £14.6m.

    The presidential pardon said Mann had been released, taking into account his health and given his need "to receive regular medical treatment and to be with his family". It stated that the pardon came on the eve of an official visit to Equatorial Guinea by Jacob Zuma, the South African president.

    The decree also said that Mann's "attitude during the investigation … and his behaviour during the trial and while being held in prison … showed sufficient and credible signs of repentance".

    When Mann was sentenced in July last year the presiding judge, Carlos Mangue, said Mann had failed to show "an attitude of regret" despite his apology before the court. But there was speculation at the time that he would be pardoned by Obiang.

    Diplomatic sources said he had told the court what the regime wanted to hear, implicating individuals and foreign governments blamed by Equatorial Guinea for the plot. Mann claimed Spain and South Africa, with the endorsement of the former South African president, Thabo Mbeki, had supported the plot. "It was like an official operation. The governments of Spain and South Africa were giving the green light: 'You've got to do it'," he told the court. Tacit approval for regime change came from the Pentagon, CIA and the big US oil companies according to Mann. Mann had accepted he was doing the job for money – said to be $15m – but he claimed he was sympathetic to the story he was told: that Equatorial Guinea's oil money was not reaching the people. He told the court that in retrospect he was relieved the coup had not succeeded, because he now realised Equatorial Guinea was not such a bad place.

    The trial took place under heavy security with a tank outside and the court ringed by soldiers.

    He told the court that he took Mark Thatcher to the Chelsea home of Ely Calil, a Lebanese businessman who is alleged by the government of Equatorial Guinea to have been the main financier of the plot. He named the management board as Calil, himself, a London property developer, Thatcher, who he described as "a part of the management team", and a Lebanese colleague of Calil who lives in Beirut.

    Mann said Thatcher had provided $350,000 for the coup, which was used to buy a small plane that would transport the new provisional president, Severo Moto, from his opposition exile in Spain to Malabo via the Canary Islands. Thatcher has said he had no idea what the money was intended for.

    Calil has always strongly denied involvement in the coup plot and claimed Mann was pressured into repeating in court allegations that previously been extracted from him under torture in Zimbabwe.

    At the time of Mann's trial there were reports that anti-terrorism officers from the Metropolitan police were considering flying out to question him about the coup, including the role of Thatcher. The police refused tonight to comment on whether Mann would face questioning on his return to the UK.

    Mann was extradited from Zimbabwe to Equatorial Guinea in January last year after being convicted in Zimbabwe of attempting to buy arms for an alleged coup plot and sentenced to seven years imprisonment. His lawyers accused Zimbabwean officials of a criminal conspiracy in secretly flying him out of the country before his appeals procedure was finished.

    A statement by Equatorial Guinea's information ministry said that once he was released, Mann would have 24 hours to leave the country. The statement was published on its website yesterday. It said the decree would take effect when published "in the national information media". It was unclear whether this meant – on the website of the information ministry or in the local press. The Foreign Office said tonight it was seeking to clarify reports of Mann's release. "We are aware of reports about the proposed release of Simon Mann and we are seeking to clarify these but it's an issue for the Equatorial Guinea authorities," a spokesman said.

    Obiang's regime which has been in power since 1979 is accused of being one of Africa's worst violators of human rights."

    More to this tale in my Opinion.
  2. Andy_S

    Andy_S LE Book Reviewer

    LOTS of well-connected strings being pulled in the background, I am sure. But what of his men? Are they out too, or are they left to rot in Black Beach pokey?

    The modern mercenaries - working for security cos in Iraq, etc - have got it sussed. OTOH, the old-school British mercs in Africa - Hoare, Mann et al - are a joke. The opsec on the Seychelles and Guinean coups was laughable. The fact that these men were trained officers seriously gives one pause for thought.
  3. Gremlin

    Gremlin LE Good Egg (charities)

  4. how did they think they were going to topple Equatorial Guinea's government?
  5. Bovvered. Shame not enough muck stuck to that twat Thatcher though.
  6. I'm sure Thatcher is still sh1tting himself having sung such a pretty tune when busted.

    Beware the fury of a patient man, an all that...
  7. I'm sure someone paid a nice bung to get this result.
  8. Biped

    Biped LE Book Reviewer

    I wonder how he's going to thank his buddies . . .
  9. As Mark Thatcher was involved I suspect it was a 'their only fuzzy wuzzy's 'n' don't like it up 'em'(or words to that effect) attitude that was the order of the day...oh..and as 'Mark' ran for cover like the cockroach that he is...I trust Simon Mann in due course will be coming to collect what's 'owed'....
  10. True enough, the old-style 'dogs of war' don't really stand comparison with the present crop of private military contractors...however, such comparisons are always a little shaky. For example, Blackwater (or Xe or whatever the hell it calls itself now), would not be regarded as a true mercenary outfit by the old Africa hands, as it could be regarded as a quasi-government organisation, working exclusively for the US Government.

    Mike Hoare is doing rather nicely for himself in South Africa as far as I know.
  11. Almost certain to write a self-justifying book with a gash warry title and rake it in. No doubt his spell inside will just add to his belief that he is some kind of latter-day Sir Richard Burton.
  12. I'm happy for the guy. Speedy trip home Simon.
  13. Would you be happy if a private individual who had tried to overthrow the US or UK Government was pardoned, released and returned home after serving one year inside? Or are the rules different in regard to third world countries who can't be trusted to think for themselves and where those convicted are rich and white?
  14. Pretty much spot on.

    The rulers of most African "countrties" could do with being fed to the pigs, and then the whole shooting match being tarmaced and used as somewhere to park our Bentleys.