Equatorial Guinea demands interview with Mark Thatcher

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The Independent Online

Equatorial Guinea demanded to be allowed to interview Sir Mark Thatcher yesterday over his involvement in the alleged coup plot there as its lawyers said they had "high hopes" of extraditing him.

Equatorial Guinea demanded to be allowed to interview Sir Mark Thatcher yesterday over his involvement in the alleged coup plot there as its lawyers said they had "high hopes" of extraditing him.

South Africa said it would not extradite Sir Mark to a country where he could face the death penalty. It said it was considering the interview request.

Lucie Bourthoumieux, who is advising Equatorial Guinea, said: "South Africa is willing to fight furiously against all mercenaryism and terrorism." Partnership in the African Union and civil conventions should make extradition possible, the lawyer said.

Sir Mark 51, denies any part in the alleged conspiracy. He was arrested on Wednesday at his home in Cape Town, and released on R2m (£165,000) bail.

Sir Mark's lawyers said he was co-operating with the authorities and was prepared to meet representatives from Equatorial Guinea. His lawyer, Alan Bruce-Brand, said prospects of a successful request appeared "very weak".

An extradition lawyer, Alun Jones QC, said he would not expect such a request to be granted. "As far as we know there is no treaty between the countries, and the alleged offence is of a political character: most extradition statutes except such offences."

Baroness Thatcher flew home to London yesterday after breaking off a holiday in the US following her son's arrest. A family spokesman, Lord Bell, said she was distressed but confident about South Africa's legal process. "She's sure that he'll be cleared," he said.

On the conviction of Simon Mann in Harare, he said: "Mark Thatcher and Simon Mann were friends; nobody has ever denied that. But it doesn't follow that because you are friends with someone you are necessarily involved in what they are doing."

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