The former special forces officer apologised, saying he was not the most senior coup plotter.

Mann had implicated Sir Mark Thatcher and Lebanese businessman Ely Calil as organisers of the plot.

Sir Mark, who now lives in southern Spain, was fined and received a suspended sentence in South Africa in 2005 for unknowingly helping to finance the plot.

After Mann’s verdict, Sir Mark reiterated to the BBC that he had had no direct involvement.

He said he had known nothing about any plan to overthrow the government and added that he had already faced justice in South Africa.

Upon Mann’s release, Sir Mark released a statement, saying: “I am delighted that Simon will be reunited with his family at last.”

Mr Calil also said he was “thrilled” at the news, adding: “I’m sure that friends who have been praying for his safe return since this nightmare began will rally around.” 

*****

   Oh really?  I hope Sir Mark and Mr. Calil will have a nice fat ‘pain and suffering’ bonus, ready to give to all the members of this team? If not, stand by for the legion of book deals that the various members will write, all telling ‘the other side of the story’.  It could get interesting with this one.

   Also stand by for any new info about Spain’s or the UK’s involvement with this coup plot.  Hence why Scotland Yard is probably involved. Of course they would like to find out Thatcher’s involvement, but they probably want to know what else Simon knows.  Like I said, this could get interesting and I am thinking that many folks probably wished that Simon Mann and company just stayed in prison.

   On another note, I wonder if Simon Mann will fire up Sandline International again?  The URL for his company is still active. -Matt

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Pardoned coup plot Briton freed

November 3, 2009

Former British soldier Simon Mann, who had been sentenced to 34 years for a coup plot in Equatorial Guinea, has been freed.

Earlier Mann and four South Africans jailed with him had been pardoned by the country’s president and were told to leave within 24 hours.

Mann, who was sentenced in July 2008, had admitted to conspiring to oust President Teodoro Obiang Nguema.

Mann’s family said they were “absolutely delighted”.

Equatorial Guinea’s ambassador to the UK Agustin Nze Nfumu told the BBC World Service’s Focus on Africa programme that Mann was now with his brother and sister who had travelled to the country for his release.

“He’s in [the capital] Malabo with his family,” he said. “The family took a private plane for him and they are waiting and they will decide when to leave the country.”

A Mann family statement said: “Everyone is profoundly grateful to the president and the government of Equatorial Guinea.

“The whole family is overjoyed at the prospect of finally welcoming Simon home after five-and-a-half long years away.”

‘Live in peace’

An adviser to President Obiang, Miguel Mifuno, said that Mann, 57, had been released on humanitarian grounds related to his health. Mann had a hernia operation in 2008.

ANALYSIS

Frank Gardner, security correspondent, BBC News

No-one could accuse Simon Mann of seeking the quiet life. The son of an England cricket captain, educated at Eton and Sandhurst, he went on to serve in the Scots Guards and passed the British Army’s most rigorous selection test to get into the SAS.

After leaving the Army he co-founded Sandline International, a private security firm that got involved in Sierra Leone’s civil war. In 2004 his world fell apart. After his arrest in Zimbabwe, he was tried, sentenced and spent four hellish years in prison.

Last year, after another trial in Equatorial Guinea, he was jailed for 34 years. But his cooperation with the authorities, and his naming of alleged accomplices, including Sir Mark Thatcher, appear to have helped win him this sudden and unexpected pardon.

Mr Mifuno said: “Simon Mann conducted himself in exemplary fashion during his trial and his incarceration in Equatorial Guinea.

“He has had some health problems, and was operated on. He is now in good health but the president thinks he should now be allowed to live in peace with his family.”

Mr Mifuno told BBC News that the releases were timed to coincide with a visit to Equatorial Guinea by South African President Jacob Zuma.

The Foreign Office said it understood it was a personal decision by the president on humanitarian grounds.

Equatorial Guinea’s Supreme Court judge had earlier told the BBC that Mann would be leaving jail on Tuesday.

Justice Obono Olo also said he had met Mann in the past few days and that he was “in good health”.

BBC Africa bureaux editor, Sara Halfpenny, says Mann is very unlikely to travel to Johannesburg as he runs the risk of being arrested under the South Africa Mercenary Act.

She adds that Scotland Yard wants to talk to Mann about the possible involvement of London-based millionaire Ely Calil and Sir Mark Thatcher, son of UK former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, in the coup.

Sources in Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command have confirmed to the BBC that there is an ongoing investigation into whether any offences relating to the coup were committed in the UK.

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner says Mann’s release has been a surprise and that Mann’s family had only been told 24 hours ago.

“He’s going to see a son he’s never seen, who was born when he was in prison. This is a man, who if he had served his whole sentence, would have come out in his 90s,” our correspondent says.

Equatorial Guinea analyst Antony Goldman told the BBC that friends of Mann had been hinting of his possible release for several weeks.

But he said that the timing of the move – three weeks ahead of presidential elections – was something of a surprise in a country where officials constantly feared that concessions could be interpreted as weakness.

Some analysts had suggested that Mann was released because he posed a security risk, but Equatorial Guinea’s ambassador rejected this.

“Tell those people that they are writing novels, if they want to make another movie on that let them invent stories,” Mr Nze Nfumu said. “The man has been there almost two years, I don’t know what security risk – I can’t commend such nonsense.”

‘An accomplice’

In March 2004, Mann and 63 others were arrested in Zimbabwe on board a plane that arrived from South Africa. Its destination was Equatorial Guinea.

His extradition came after he had served four years in prison in Zimbabwe for trying to purchase weapons without a licence.

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

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

The former special forces officer apologised, saying he was not the most senior coup plotter.

Mann had implicated Sir Mark Thatcher and Lebanese businessman Ely Calil as organisers of the plot.

Sir Mark, who now lives in southern Spain, was fined and received a suspended sentence in South Africa in 2005 for unknowingly helping to finance the plot.

After Mann’s verdict, Sir Mark reiterated to the BBC that he had had no direct involvement.

He said he had known nothing about any plan to overthrow the government and added that he had already faced justice in South Africa.

Upon Mann’s release, Sir Mark released a statement, saying: “I am delighted that Simon will be reunited with his family at last.”

Mr Calil also said he was “thrilled” at the news, adding: “I’m sure that friends who have been praying for his safe return since this nightmare began will rally around.”

Story here.

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Simon Mann: timeline of the Equitorial Guinea coup plot

The timeline of events that led to the British mercenary being jailed for plotting to overthrow the government

03 Nov 2009

 

Simon Mann was sentenced to a 34-year jail term after admitting conspiring to oust President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, leader of the tiny West African country Photo: REUTERS

March 2004: Up to 70 suspected mercenaries, including Simon Mann, were arrested in the Zimbabwean capital Harare. The president of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, announced that 15 mercenaries who planned to overthrow his regime were arrested in his country and said that a Madrid-based opposition leader, Severo Moto, was behind the coup plot.

July 2004: The trial of the mercenaries started in Harare. Mann pleaded guilty to attempting to possess dangerous weapons and was jailed for seven years.

August 2004: Mark Thatcher was charged in South Africa on suspicion of financing the coup and placed under house arrest.

November 2004: An Equitorial Guinea court sentenced Moto to 63 years in prison and South African leader of the mercenaries, Nick du Toit, to 34 years in jail.

January 2005: Thatcher pleaded guilty to a role in the plot under a plea bargain agreement that allowed him to avoid jail. He received a four-year suspended jail sentence having admitted to providing money to buy a helicopter that he knew might have been used by mercenaries. He left South Africa.

January 2008: Mann was deported to Equatorial Guinea from Zimbabwe to face charges after losing an appeal against extradition. He was taken to Black Beach prison.

March 2008: Mann said he plotted to oust the president, but the scheme failed. Equatorial Guinea issued an arrest warrant for Sir Mark. Guinea’s public prosecutor said that Mann had testified that Sir Mark knew all about the scheme to overthrow President Nguema.

June 2008: Mann went on trial, and in course of evidence he said Sir Mark was part of the plot. A month later he was sentenced to 34 years and four months in jail.

July 2008: British-based businessman Eli Calil told The Daily Telegraph he supported regime change in the oil-rich west African nation of Equatorial Guinea and financed plans by Moto to return to his country. He denied there had ever been a coup plot or that Sir Mark was involved.

November 2009: Equatorial Guinea’s government pardoned Mann, du Toit and three other South Africans on humanitarian grounds.

Story here.

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What Will Come Of Simon Mann’s Release?

Mark Stone

November 03, 2009 2:24 PM

If you believe the conspiracies, indeed, if you believe Simon Mann’s own statements in court last year, then you can bet they’ll be some anxious people out there somewhere.

Through his four years detention in Zimbabwe and his 16 months in Equatorial Guinea, the former SAS officer has maintained that he was not the man who masterminded the coup plot in 2004.

There were many other characters involved, he says. Men who have escaped years in some less-than-pleasent African jails.

He’s named a few: Sir Mark Thatcher was, he alleges “an intimate player” in the plot. He claims the two discussed how the country would be run after the coup had succeeded. And Eli Calil, a Lebanese-born, London-based businessman was, claims Mann, the mastermind behind it all.

Both men categorically deny those assertions.

Mark Thatcher has admitted unwittingly supplying money he thought would be used for humanitarian purposes.

But the allegations go further than singling out individuals. Mr Mann claims that the governments of both South Africa and Spain were in on the plot.

It’s said that the man who was to be installed as the new president – opposition leader Severo Moto – was waiting on a plane in Spain, ready to be whisked into the country.

And there were, apparently, a couple of Spanish warships floating off the west coast of Africa. The Spanish deny any involvement.

And there have reportedly been mixed messages from the UK government about whether they knew of the plot.

Whatever the truth, it’s a remarkable story. Simon Mann will probably soon tell it. Some may hope he doesn’t.

Story here.

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Nick du Toit

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nick du Toit is a South African arms dealer and former army officer (of 32 Battalion and the 5th Reconnaissance Commando). He was implicated in the plot to overthrow Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea. He went on trial in Malabo along with 18 other men accused of being the advance party for 70 other mercenaries. The prosecution asked for the death penalty but when all were found guilty jail sentences were handed out with du Toit receiving 34 years (to be served in Malabo’s notorious Black Beach prison). The absence of any death sentences in the judge’s verdict is seen by some[who?] as laying the foundations for the extradition of others connected to the coup plot such as Mark Thatcher and Simon Mann from countries that are opposed to the death penalty.

His job in the coup d’état was to supply the mercenaries with arms including AK47s, RPGs, PK machine guns, and mortars, and to secure the control tower at the Malabo airport and change the frequency to establish communication with the incoming plane from Zimbabwe carrying more mercenaries.

After his capture, he appeared on South African television announcing the failure of the coup and the names of co-conspirators. His business connections with Armengol Ondo Nguema, the brother of Teodoro Obiang have caused Obiang’s son to suspect an internal coup. Nick du Toit’s wife has claimed that the appearance was coerced by torture; namely stamping on du Toit’s feet until his toenails came off, electric shocks and beatings. He was given a presidential pardon by Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang on November 3, and was released along with Sergio Fernando Patricio Cardoso, Jose Passocas Domingos and Georges Olympic Nunez Alerson.