Eq. Guinea wants death for coup suspect, 26 years for Armenians

Reuters, UK
Nov 18 2004

Equatorial Guinea wants death for coup suspect

By Estelle Shirbon

MALABO (Reuters) – Equatorial Guinea’s state prosecutor has demanded
the death penalty for a South African accused of plotting to topple
the president of sub-Saharan Africa’s third-biggest oil producer.

Summing up the case against 19 suspected mercenaries standing trial,
state prosecutor Jose Olo Obono said on Thursday that the group was
working for an international web of financiers seeking to put exiled
politician Severo Moto in power.

Equatorial Guinea says the plot to oust President Teodoro Obiang
Nguema Mbasogo was organised by Simon Mann, a former British special
forces officer who was jailed by Zimbabwe in August on charges
related to the alleged coup.

Obono told the court he wanted the death penalty both for South
African Nick du Toit, who was in court flanked by four armed guards
with his hands and feet shackled, and for Moto, who lives in Spain
and is being tried in absentia.

Du Toit was the only man in the trial to admit involvement in the
plot, but he retracted his confession on Tuesday.

The South African said he had been tortured and confessed only to
save his life. But in his summing up, Obono rejected any allegations
of mistreatment, saying all the prisoners’ rights had been respected.

“Any statement to the contrary … is not admissible in this trial,”
he told the court.

Obono also called for seven other South Africans on trial to be
sentenced to 86 years each and for six Armenians to serve 26 years
each.

LIST OF FINANCIERS

Fourteen people, including Mark Thatcher, the son of former Prime
Minister Margaret Thatcher, are listed in court documents read out by
Obono as financiers of the plot.

Thatcher is accused of stumping up $275,000 (148,000 pounds), while
Lebanese oil tycoon Eli Calil is alleged to have contributed
$750,000. Both deny any involvement.

A number of British businessmen are also named in the list handed out
in the Malabo court, including a J.H. Archer. He is alleged to have
provided $240,000 to the coup plotters.

Disgraced British politician and best-selling novelist Jeffrey
Archer, who spent time behind bars for perjury and perverting the
course of justice in relation to a libel case, denied any links to
the case. His middle initial is H.

“Lord Archer emphatically denies any involvement with the alleged
coup in Equatorial Guinea,” Archer’s lawyers said in London,
repeating a statement they first made in August.

Members of Equatorial Guinea’s legal team denied media reports that
Thatcher had been charged by the country, which has yet to decide
whether to seek his extradition from South Africa.

Thatcher is due to appear in a Cape Town court on November 26 to
answer questions from Equatorial Guinea about the alleged plot.
However, his lawyers have challenged this, saying it may infringe on
his right to a fair trial in South Africa or Equatorial Guinea,
should he later be extradited.

He is also due to attend a November 25 court hearing at which he
faces charges under South Africa’s anti-mercenary law.

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