Mann names Mark Thatcher as 'coup leader'

Mark Thatcher was a leader of a 2004 coup plot in Equatorial Guinea that was backed by Spain and South Africa, the British mercenary Simon Mann told a court today.

Simon Mann, an Eton-educated former special forces officer, was giving testimony at his trial in Malabo about his role in the failed plot to overthrow President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo in the small, oil-rich West African nation.

Mann said Margaret Thatcher's son, who has denied knowing about the conspiracy, "was not just an investor".

"He came on board completely and became part of the management team," Mann said, adding that a London-based millionaire, Eli Calil, was "the boss" of the plot.

Mann also said the governments of Spain and South Africa knew about the conspiracy and approved of it going ahead.

Spain's Foreign Ministry quickly denied the allegation.

Mann was arrested in Zimbabwe in March 2004 with 70 mercenaries en route to Equatorial Guinea, a former Spanish colony which Obiang has ruled since 1979.

On the first day of Mann's trial on Tuesday, the prosecution asked the court to jail him for nearly 32 years for his role in the coup plot, which he has admitted being part of. His defence lawyer said he was an "instrument", but not a ringleader.

Mann, 55, testified on Wednesday that by January 2004, the coup plot had become "like an official operation because the Spanish government and the South African government were both giving the green light".

"Their involvement was clandestine and they will never admit it," he told the court.

"We totally deny what Mr Mann says. We did not give the green light to any of this," a Spanish Foreign Ministry spokesman said in Madrid.

Equatorial Guinea's Public Prosecutor Jose Olo Obono told Reuters the next step for the West African state's authorities would be to seek the extradition of Thatcher and Calil.

"I am very, very sorry for what I have done. I am also very happy that we failed ... I think that the people that were seriously involved in this and have not faced justice, they should do so," Mann told the court

Yesterday, the prosecutor asked for a cumulative jail term of 31 years and eight months for Mann on charges of crimes against the head of state, crimes against the government and crimes against the peace and independence of the state.

In today's testimony, Mann said the plotters had rushed to try to carry out the coup before March 14, 2004, the date of a general election in Spain which they feared would unseat the centre-right government and deprive them of the Spanish diplomatic backing he said they had been promised.

"Everything was in ... a big hurry, because we had this date of March 14, the Spanish election, which was coming closer and closer," Mann said.

Spain's centre-right government led by Jose Maria Aznar was defeated in the 2004 election by the Socialists.

Mann said Calil had told him the coup plotters had been promised immediate diplomatic recognition by Aznar's administration if they succeeded in replacing Obiang with Equatorial Guinea opposition figure Severo Moto.

Spain had also promised to send a contingent of Civil Guards, according to Calil, Mann said.

He added that an intelligence contact, who liaised with South Africa's intelligence services, had asked him to provide Moto's telephone number so that South African President Thabo Mbeki could call Moto if the coup succeeded.

Calil, who made his fortune in Nigeria's oil sector, denies any involvement in the Equatorial Guinea coup plot.

The court heard on Tuesday Mark Thatcher was accused of paying the equivalent of $300,000 to be used mainly to purchase a helicopter to transport Moto from exile in Spain to Malabo, once Obiang was overthrown.

The prosecution said Calil invested some $2 million in the coup attempt and was its main financier.

Thatcher, who was arrested in 2004 by South African police on suspicion of bankrolling the plot, said he thought he was financing the helicopter for an air ambulance service.

He was released after pleading guilty to breaking South Africa's anti-mercenary laws and he paid a fine.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick