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Monday, July 07, 2008,11:12 AM
Mann sentenced for E Guinea plot
Former British soldier Simon Mann has been sentenced to 34 years and four months in jail by an Equatorial Guinea court for his role in a 2004 coup plot.

The verdict followed Mann's trial in the capital Malabo last month in which he admitted conspiring to oust President Teodoro Obiang Nguema.

The former special forces officer, 56, had expressed remorse, saying he was not the most senior coup plotter.

Mann was held in 2004 with 64 others in Zimbabwe before being extradited.

He served four years in a prison in Zimbabwe for trying to purchase weapons without a licence.

Eleven other men, including South African arms dealer Nick Du Toit - who testified that he had been recruited by Mann - are already serving sentences in Equatorial Guinea in connection with the coup attempt.

Equatorial Guinea, an oil-rich former Spanish colony, has been ruled by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema since he seized power from his uncle in 1979.

Pardon hint

Mann, wearing a grey prison uniform, stood impassively as the verdict was read out by presiding judge Carlos Mangue in the heavily-guarded courtroom in Malabo, according to Reuters news agency.

During the trial, prosecutors had asked for about 31 years in prison - but in the end a three-judge panel gave him an even longer sentence.

Mann's lawyer had asked for leniency, saying his client was a pawn of powerful international businessmen and saying he had been "not a co-author" of the coup plot but "an accomplice".

President Nguema has not ruled out the possibility of Mann serving part of his sentence in a British jail, the BBC's West Africa correspondent Will Ross.

He adds that Mann's best hope of freedom is a presidential pardon.


Mann has implicated Sir Mark Thatcher, son of UK former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and London-based millionaire Eli Calil as organisers of the plot.

Sir Mark was fined and received a suspended sentence in South Africa in 2005 for unknowingly helping to finance the plot. He strongly denies any direct involvement. Mr Calil also denies involvement.

Du Toit has said that he was told they were trying to install an exiled opposition politician, Severo Moto, as president.

Mr Moto, who is currently in Spain, has denied involvement in the failed coup.


posted by R J Noriega
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