[Deathpenalty]death penalty news --- worldwide
j_sommer at gmx.net
Wed Jul 28 09:45:04 CDT 2004
death penalty news
July 28, 2004
ZIMBABWE / UNITED KINGDOM:
Ex-SAS officer may face death penalty in coup conspiracy trial
A British national will go on trial today on charges of leading a plot to
oust the government of the oil-rich west African state of Equatorial Guinea.
Simon Mann, a 49-year-old former SAS officer and old Etonian, will face
serious charges under Zimbabwe's security laws which could result in the
death penalty if he is convicted.
Mr Mann is currently being held in solitary confinement in a Zimbabwean prison.
Yesterday, 67 men held on charges of plotting a coup in Equatorial Guinea
pleaded guilty to violating Zimbabwe's immigration and civil aviation laws
when their plane landed in Harare in March.
Mr Mann and two others were already in Zimbabwe when the plane landed and
did not face these charges. Today, though, he will be charged with
conspiracy to overthrow a legitimate foreign government and with purchasing
arms of war without a licence.
Mr Mann was on the tarmac at Harare International Airport when his 67
co-accused landed in an ageing Boeing 727 from South Africa. He is accused
of having been waiting to load weapons he had bought from Zimbabwe's state
arms manufacturer, Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI). Mr Mann said the arms
were for guarding a mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
But Zimbabwe authorities said Mr Mann had planned to join his co-accused in
the plane and lead them into overthrowing the Equatorial Guinea government
using the weapons. This would be achieved in liaison with an advance party
of 15 men who were arrested in the West African country following Mr Mann's
arrest in Harare.
Mr Mann, who had previously been linked to various mercenary activities
across Africa, is expected to argue that his purchase of arms was
legitimate. He had made similar purchases before and the ZDI had not
insisted on him possessing a licence before buying the arms.
"They seem to want to nail Mr Mann more ... We will see how it goes," said
Jonathan Samkange, Mr Mann's lawyer.
The Independent is reliably informed that the ZDI's managing director, Mr
Tshinga Dube, who was at the airport to help Mr Mann load the arms was
incensed by the latter's arrest as it had cost him a "good regular customer".
But it is alleged that Mr Mann was paid millions of pounds by exiled
Equatorial Guinea politicians as advance payment for the plot. He would
later be rewarded with oil concessions and more money if successful in
overthrowing President Theodro Mbasogo Nguema's regime.
Mr Mann, who has been kept in solitary confinement, at times in handcuffs
and leg irons for long periods, looked pale and demoralised at the
makeshift court room at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison yesterday.
The families of his 67 co-accused are hopeful the men would receive lighter
sentences and be deported back to South Africa. However, there remains the
prospect of extradition to Equatorial Guinea, where anyone found guilty of
involvement in the plot could face execution.
(source: The Independent)
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