- Authorities in Equatorial Guinea have confirmed the date of the case against Simon Mann, a British mercenary detained in the country accused of having made preparations to overthrow the dictatorship of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema.
"Simon Mann, the British soldier for hire now on remand at Black Beach prison in Equatorial Guinea, will make his first court appearance on 17 June," according to a press release by the pro-government media 'Ceiba Magazine', based in Equatorial Guinea and London. The British Special Forces officer has been charged with plotting to overthrow the government of Equatorial Guinea.
Mr Mann was arrested in Zimbabwe in 2004, together with 70 other men, as their airplane en route to Equatorial Guinea landed in Harare to collect weapons bought from Zimbabwe's state arms manufacturer. He was extradited earlier this year to Equatorial Guinea and is being held at the country's Black Beach prison, reputed for ill-treatment and torture.
The Briton, according to statements from his tortured fellows, had been engaged by the exiled Equatoguinean politician Severo Moto, who is based in Spain. Mr Moto was to provide political legitimisation to the coup and to "land in an aircraft 30 minutes after the main force has landed," other witnessed said. The Equatoguinean politician himself was detained in Spain only last month, allegedly preparing yet another coup plot in Equatorial Guinea.
It is strongly doubted whether Mr Mann will get a fair trial in Equatorial Guinea. The government already has established as a fact that a coup was about to be carried out in 2004, and that Mr Mann was among the leading figures. The judiciary is far from free from political pressure in the country.
Also, it is expected that Mr Mann will have been submitted to severe torture in the Black Beach prison. The opposition and international human rights groups have presented solid proof of the systematic use of heavy torture in those prison facilities.
Finally, witness evidence presented against Mr Mann also has been produced under torture. South African national Nick du Toit, the alleged leader of a group, was heavily tortured at Black Beach, and testified against both Mr Moto and Mr Mann.
The Equatoguinean President, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, himself came to power in a 1979 coup against his own uncle, who was shot shortly after his toppling. Mr Obiang has led the country with an iron hand for almost three decades, not allowing any real opposition and closely controlling the armed forces to avoid coups against him. His own security is provided for by the well paid presidential guard, made up of only Moroccan mercenaries.
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