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A British man who was part of a failed plot to overthrow the government in Equatorial Guinea has arrived back in Britain. He was released from prison in the small West African country Tuesday after being pardoned by the country's president.
Simon Mann was serving a 34-year sentence for conspiring to overthrow the government in Equatorial Guinea. But after serving only 15 months of his sentence, he was released from prison Tuesday.
In a statement read out by his spokesman, Mann said he was overwhelmed at being back on British soil.
"This is the most wonderful home coming I could ever have imagined," he said. "There has not been a moment during the last five and a half years where I have not dreamt of being back in Britain with my family. I am especially looking forward to meeting my son Arthur who was born a few months after I left the country and who consequently I have never seen."
Even though he had only served 15 months of his official sentence, Mann had been imprisoned for more than five years.
Before leaving Equatorial Guinea, Mann spoke to the media and gave thanks to the country's president Teodoro Obiang Nguema.
"I am very very grateful for this pardon," he said. "I regret what happened in 2004. It was wrong and I am happy that we did not succeed."
Now back in his home country, Mann will be interviewed by British detectives. He says other Britain-based businessmen were involved in the conspiracy and says he hopes they will now face justice. He has pointed the finger at Mark Thatcher, the son of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and at Nigerian-born Ely Calil.
The 2004 coup plot was to replace President Osang with opposition leader Severo Moto, who was then living in exile. The conspiracy was broken up when Mann and up to 70 mercenaries were arrested in Zimbabwe, where they had traveled to buy weapons.