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Mercenaries saga: E. Guinea seeks foiled coup leaderís extradition Print

Herald (Zimb) - 12-Feb-2007

Mann is serving a four-year jail term, and is due for release in May

Equatorial Guinea has applied to have Simon Francis Mann, who is in jail in Zimbabwe for leading a foiled coup against President Theodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, extradited for trial in that country. Mann is serving a four-year jail term at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison for contravening Zimbabwe’s firearms laws. He is due for release in May. Mann’s lawyer Mr Jonathan Samkange of Byron Venturas and Partners confirmed that the application by Equatorial Guinea would be heard on Thursday at the Harare Magistrates’ Court. He said the Government was not an interested party in the case. "The Government is neutral. It has no interest whatsoever whether he is extradited or not. All they can do is try to assist Equatorial Guinea by providing a magistrate and lawyers and they will simply present the Equatorial Guinea’s position," said Mr Samkange. Harare magistrate Ms Omega Mugumbate is expected to preside over the application, while Mr Joseph Jagada of the Attorney-General’s Office will make the presentation of Equatorial Guinea’s position.

Mann and his other 61 accomplices were arrested in February 2004 when they made a stopover at the Harare International Airport to pick up weapons en-route to Equatorial Guinea to stage a coup against President Nguema’s government. The mercenaries - who were of different nationalities but all travelling on South African passports - were found guilty of breaking Zimbabwe’s aviation and firearms laws. They are believed to have been hired by exiled Equatorial Guinea opposition leader, Mr Severo Moto, to topple President Nguema’s government. One mercenary died while serving his prison term in 2004 and two others, after being diagnosed as seriously ill, had their sentences slashed to time served through routine presidential clemency orders and were released and immediately deported to South Africa. The ringleader, Mann, a former member of the British Army’s Special Air Service commando unit, pleaded guilty to contravening the Public Order and Security Act for attempting to possess dangerous weapons and was sentenced to four years in jail. He was slapped with a further three years for attempting to buy dangerous weapons without end-user certificates. 

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