Equatorial Guinea coup plotters pardoned, released from jail

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

British mercenary Simon Mann was released from a jail in Equatorial Guinea after being pardoned for attempting to overthrow the government.

Mann, along with several dozen other suspected plotters, was arrested five years ago on charges of trying to start a coup to overthrow president Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. Their plans were foiled, however, and Mann was arrested after arriving in Zimbabwe to purchase firearms and grenades.

The conspirators had planned to install exiled opposition leader Severo Moto as president and to gain control over the country's vast oil supplies. Equatorial Guinea is Africa's third biggest oil producer.

The government said that the decision was made on compassionate grounds, seeing as Mann, aged 57, was reportedly not in good health. It stated that Mann had "shown sufficient and credible signs of repentance and a desire to take his place in society."

Amnesty was also given to four other co-conspirators, among them Nick Du Toit, from South Africa. Mann was arrested along with 63 others in 2004 when his plane landed in Zimbabwe allegedly to collect arms bought from the country's state arms manufacturer. He was extradited to Equatorial Guinea in 2008.


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