Thatcher shrugs off E Guinea's bid to arrest him

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s son shrugged off Equatorial Guinea’s attempts to have him arrested for his alleged role in a plot to overthrow the country, according to a newspaper report on Saturday.

The West African country has issued a warrant for Mark Thatcher’s arrest for his role in helping to finance and organise a coup plot to take over Africa’s third-largest oil producer, Equatorial Guinea’s Attorney General Jose Olo Obono said Saturday.

Thatcher pleaded guilty in a South African court three years ago to unwittingly helping bankroll the 2004 coup plot, which was thwarted when 70 mercenaries were arrested during a stopover in Zimbabwe.

Thatcher was fined and received a suspended sentence.

“I’ve been charged and tried in a court in South Africa on exactly those charges so I don’t see what more they can do,” Thatcher was quoted as telling the Daily Telegraph newspaper at a resort in Spain’s Costa del Sol.

“The term ‘double jeopardy’ springs to mind,” he was quoted as saying. “I feel pretty relaxed about it.”

Obono said the warrant was issued Friday after the government received new documents and evidence from Thatcher’s friend, Simon Mann, a former British army officer, who is awaiting trial Equatorial Guinea for his alleged role in the plot.

“Mark Thatcher provided financing for a coup d’etat in Equatorial Guinea and then he organised all the transport for the coup d’etat,” Obono said, speaking by telephone from Paris.

“Now, he can do whatever he wants? We don’t understand how [South Africa] let him go with just this fine. With an issue like this, we can’t just let it go,” Obono said.

Thatcher admitted that he paid $275 000 to charter a helicopter to be used in the takeover attempt.
But he said in court documents that he was told it would be used for commercial purposes.

Mann says he and his 80-member team were hired to be bodyguards for rebel leader Severo Moto. He said Moto’s supporters were supposed to secure the capital and arrest President Teodoro Obiang Ngeuma before Mann’s arrival.

Obiang seized power in Equatorial Guinea in an August 3 1979 coup.

His government is considered to be among Africa’s worst violators of human rights. - Sapa-AP

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