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Trial of British Mercenary Ends in Equatorial Guinea


The trial in Equatorial Guinea of a British mercenary accused of plotting to overthrow the country's government ended on Friday, but no verdict was announced.

The Associated Press says a verdict in the case of Simon Mann is expected next week.

Mann has admitted he agreed to take part in a 2004 plot to topple President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, in exchange for payments from future oil revenues. But Mann says he did not have a leading role in the failed coup.

Mann has testified that Mark Thatcher - the son of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher - helped plan and finance the coup plot.

Mann also said that a London-based Lebanese businessman, Eli Calil, was the coup's mastermind.

In 2005, Mark Thatcher pleaded guilty in a South African court to unknowingly helping finance the plot. He was given a four-year suspended sentence.

Equatorial Guinea is seeking Thatcher's extradition.

Another member of the coup plot - South African Nick Du Toit - was convicted by an Equatorial Guinea court and is serving 34 years in prison.

Mann and 70 others were arrested in 2004 in Zimbabwe, where their plane had stopped, allegedly to pick up weapons for the planned coup. Mann has already served four years in a Zimbabwean prison on weapons charges.

The government says the ultimate goal of the attempted coup was to put exiled opposition leader Severo Moto in power. Moto is currently under house arrest in Spain on suspicion of weapons trafficking.

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