Mann fingers Thatcher, Spain, South Africa in Guinea coup attempt
The son of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher was a key organizer of a 2004 coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea that Spain and South Africa rubber-stamped, a British mercenary undergoing trial in Malabo said Wednesday, the dpa reported.
Sir Mark Thatcher had agreed to provide a helicopter to transport opposition leader Severo Moto, then living in Spain, to Equatorial Guinea to take over from President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, the BBC quoted Simon Mann as saying.
Thatcher, who was fined 500,000 dollars and given a four-year suspended sentence in South Africa in 2005 for his part in the coup, has said he thought he was providing a helicopter for an air ambulance company in West Africa.
The BBC reported that Simon Mann told the court he felt the coup attempt was an official operation. Spain has denied any involvement in the coup.
Mann also fingered Lebanese-British oil tycoon Eli Calil as the mastermind of the attempt to seize control of the oil-rich country.
The former SAS officer, and ex-pupil at Britain's prestigious Eton College, was speaking on the second day of his trial in the capital of Equatorial Guinea.
Mann, who was extradited from Zimbabwe in January to face trial in the tiny West African nation, has admitted he was involved in the plot to overthrow President Obiang.
He faces 30 years in prison if found guilty.
The mercenary was arrested in Zimbabwe four years ago along with 69 others when they attempted to pick up a shipment of arms and served four years there before being extradited.
Many of Mann's co-conspirators are already serving jail sentences.
South African arms dealer Nick du Toit is amongst that group, although Amnesty International claimed that the trial convicting him was flawed.
Ponciano Mbomio Nvo, Mann's former defence lawyer who was stripped of his right to practise last week, told British daily The Times that he believed the trial would be rigged.
The former Spanish colony has been accused of human rights' abuses and Transparency International lists it as one of the world's most corrupt states.
The BBC said that a verdict was expected as early as Thursday.