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07 Jul 2008 09:52
A statement read on state-run radio in Equatorial Guinea says a court is expected to issue a verdict shortly in the case of Simon Mann, a former British military officer charged with trying to overthrow the government of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema
During his trial, Mann said he knowingly participated in a plan to topple Nguema, the longtime dictator of Africa’s third-biggest oil producer in a 2004 attempted coup. His lawyer has argued that the verdict should reflect Mann’s repentance.
The statement read on state-run radio on Monday said the court is expected to issue its verdict at 3pm GMT.
Mann (55) was arrested with 61 others when their plane landed at Harare in 2004, accused of stopping off for weapons from Harare while en route to Malabo allegedly to oust the leadership of Equatorial Guinea.
Mann claimed the group was en route to the Democratic Republic of Congo and needed the weapons for a security contract at a mine.
He was sentenced to seven years in jail in Zimbabwe, but the term was reduced.
Equatorial Guinea has issued an international arrest warrant for Mark Thatcher, son of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, accusing him of being an instigator of the abortive coup plot.
Thatcher (54) pleaded guilty in South Africa in 2005 to violating anti-mercenary laws in that country, saying he had unwittingly helped plotters against Nguema.
He paid a R3-million fine and was given a four-year suspended prison sentence.
Equatorial Guinea alleges that Thatcher helped fund a group of mostly British-based businessmen who sought to overthrow Obiang’s regime on behalf of an opposition leader who would give them access to Africa’s third-largest oil reserves.
Thatcher has denied any knowledge of a coup plot but acknowledged knowing some of the alleged plotters, including Mann.
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