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Zimbabwe Deports Briton Over Coup Plot Charges


Zimbabwe has extradited a former British special forces officer to Equatorial Guinea, where he faces charges of leading a 2004 coup plot to topple the government of the oil-rich West African nation. Peta Thornycroft has more for VOA.

Jonathan Samkange, a lawyer for British special forces officer Simon Mann, said Mann was deported from Zimbabwe just before dawn Thursday.

Samkange said although the High Court dismissed Mann's appeal against extradition, he still had one more appeal to go with the Supreme Court.

Mann, 55, is wanted in Equatorial Guinea where he is accused of being the mastermind behind an alleged coup plot to oust President Teodoro Obiang Nguema and replace him with exiled opposition leader Severo Moto.

According to the allegations, the plotters, who included former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher's son Mark, would allegedly win lucrative oil deals for their efforts.

Simon Mann was arrested in Harare in March 2004 where he had bought weapons from the Zimbabwe government. There were no anti-mercenary laws in Zimbabwe at the time and he pleaded guilty to weapons charges.

Altogether 70 mercenaries, including Mann were arrested in Zimbabwe, when the aircraft which transport them to Equatorial Guinea stopped in Harare to load weapons.

Samkange had argued to Zimbabwe's high court that his client should not be extradited because he might be tortured over the coup charges in Equatorial Guinea.

Amnesty International has condemned the human rights record and prison conditions in Equatorial Guinea.

Samkange says he is filing an application to the courts in Zimbabwe for Mann to be returned.

Several Zimbabwe lawyers say they are horrified that Mann was deported before he had exhausted his right to appeal to the Supreme Court.

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