Simon Mann freed on humanitarian grounds

Simon Mann, who was sentenced to 34 years in prison in Equatorial Guinea in 2008 for plotting a coup, has been granted a presidential pardon.

Supreme Court Justice Obono Olo told the Associated Press by telephone that Mann and his accomplices would be freed later on Tuesday morning. He said President Teodoro Obiang Nguema gave them “a full pardon for humanitarian reasons”.

Mann, a former special forces officer who attended Britain’s prestigious Eton school and the Sandhurst military academy, was arrested along with 67 South African mercenaries as they touched down to pick up illegal arms in Harare in March 2004.

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. Mann was held at the notorious Black Beach prison in Malabo, the capital.

Thatcher was fined R4 320 184 and given a four-year suspended sentence for helping charter a helicopter which he agreed “might be used for mercenary activity”.

Mann had initially claimed he was heading for the Democratic Republic of Congo to protect a diamond mine.

In a March 2008 interview, Mann said: “It was a fuck-up. I blame myself for not simply saying: ‘Cut’. I was bloody stupid. I regret all that terribly. You go tiger shooting and you don’t expect the tiger to win.
He did claim, however, that Spain and South Africa were in favour of the plot.

Mann was also ordered to pay a fine and compensation of about £14,6-million.

PW Botha wagged his finger and banned us in 1988 but we stood firm. We built a reputation for fearless journalism, then, and now. Through these last 35 years, the Mail & Guardian has always been on the right side of history.

These days, we are on the trail of the merry band of corporates and politicians robbing South Africa of its own potential.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertisting

South Africa has been junked

Treasury says the credit ratings downgrade “could not have come at a worse time”, as country enters a 21-day Covid-19 lockdown with little money saved up

Mail & Guardian needs your help

Our job is to help give you the information we all need to participate in building this country, while holding those in power to account. But now the power to help us keep doing that is in your hands

Press Releases

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders

Dimension Data launches Saturday School in PE

The Gauteng Saturday School has produced a number of success stories