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Jailed Old Etonian 'refused' vital surgery Print
 By Byron Dziva in Harare - 14/04/2007

Zimbabwe's authorities are risking the life of Simon Mann, the Old Etonian and former SAS officer accused of plotting a coup in Equatorial Guinea, by denying him critical surgery, say his lawyers.

Mann, who has spent the last three years in a high security prison outside the capital, Harare, needs an urgent hernia operation to avoid "life-threatening complications".

His lawyers wrote to Patrick Chinamasa, the justice minister, asking for Mann to be transferred to a private hospital for the operation. The specialist who had agreed to carry it out, Dr Edwin Muguti, is also deputy health minister in President Robert Mugabe's regime.

"Our client has been very sick and after undergoing some tests he was identified to be suffering from a hernia by the prison doctor," wrote Mann's lawyers.
They asked for "permission for our client to be operated on" and to remain in hospital for a recovery period. This request was made in January. So far, the authorities have not replied and Mann has not received any treatment. The alleged mercenary leader was arrested at Harare international airport three years ago. Mann was detained along with 69 other alleged mercenaries who were supposedly bound for the oil-rich West African state of Equatorial Guinea, where they planned to overthrow the regime.

Mann, who holds dual British and South African citizenship and lived in Cape Town, was convicted of trying to buy illegal weapons, allegedly for use in this abortive coup. His friend, Sir Mark Thatcher, later admitted helping the planned coup by paying for the hire of a helicopter which - without his knowledge - would have been used in the attempt to overthrow President Teodoro Obiang Nguema.

Mann is due to be released from prison next month. But he is fighting an attempt by Equatorial Guinea's regime to extradite him.

If his latest legal battle fails, Mann will be consigned to Black Beach prison in Equatorial Guinea's capital, Malabo, where conditions are so harsh that some inmates have starved to death.
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